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Shots send partygoers scrambling for shelter

MIAMI — A shooting that wounded 12 people at a birthday party early Monday caused a chaotic scramble that sent partygoers begging for shelter at neighbors' front doors in the shadows of downtown Miami's glistening skyscrapers.

A couple of hundred people had gathered for the party in the run-down Overtown neighborhood when three men opened fire about 12:45 a.m., police said.

The 12 victims were hospitalized, and three were in critical condition, Miami police Detective William Moreno said. Another woman was struck by a vehicle as she fled for safety, and police said she was hospitalized in stable condition.

Rescuers and neighbors who opened their doors when they heard the shots described the scene as mayhem.

"There were a couple hundred people running around outside, running for cover because there was still shooting in the area," said Miami Fire-Rescue Lt. Ignatius Carroll.

It was unclear if the shooting happened in a home or in the street. Bullet casings at the scene indicated a semiautomatic rifle and two pistols were used, Miami police Chief John Timoney said. Many were sprayed across the road amid plastic foam cups and paper debris from the party, and among other shell casings that apparently came from Fourth of July celebrations, he said.

Police think the gunman missed their intended target at the party, Timoney said.

Neighbors said they lost track of how many shots they heard, the noise waking them from sleep over the rattling of their air conditioners.

"It was like an army out here," said Rose Godbolt MacFarland, 58. Eight people clamored at her front door, looking for safety, she said. MacFarland ventured outside once the shooting stopped. She said she found one of the victims on the ground, blood streaming from his side. A former housekeeper at a hospital, she said she did what she saw doctors do in the emergency room: She held his hand and asked him questions until ambulances arrived.

Shots send partygoers scrambling for shelter 07/06/09 [Last modified: Monday, July 6, 2009 9:23pm]
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