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Fatal shootings at Miami rap concert may be tied to songs, police say

The scene became even more chaotic when some people in the crowd returned fire Sunday after three gunmen shot into a crowd, killing two and injuring 21.
Clayton Dillard, center, the grieving father of one of the deceased victims from Sunday’s shooting, emerged from behind a group of reporters Monday and screamed, presumably to the shooters, “You all killed my kid. You must burn!”
Clayton Dillard, center, the grieving father of one of the deceased victims from Sunday’s shooting, emerged from behind a group of reporters Monday and screamed, presumably to the shooters, “You all killed my kid. You must burn!” [ LYNNE SLADKY | AP ]
Published Jun. 1
Updated Jun. 1

The shooting early Sunday morning that killed two people and left 21 others wounded was likely a dispute between two rival groups that came to a head over things said in rap songs or social media posts, Alfredo Ramirez III, director of the Miami-Dade County Police Department told reporters Monday.

Ramirez, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and other community leaders gathered outside of county police headquarters in Doral to update the case — one of the worst mass shootings in recent South Florida memory — and to plead with the public to help identify the shooters.

“These gun-violence-driven murderers, as it has been said eloquently before me, who are targeting individuals and at the same time hitting innocent people who have nothing to do with their beef, ruining families,” Ramirez said.

Sunday’s shooting happened shortly after midnight outside of the El Mula Banquet Hall near the Country Club of Miami. Police say three gunmen armed with semi-automatic rifles got out of a Nissan Pathfinder and fired dozens of bullets into the crowd. They were wearing ski masks and hooded sweatshirts, according to the police.

The scene became even more chaotic when some people in the crowd returned fire, police said. The wounded were taken to various hospitals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The two people killed were pronounced dead at the scene.

Multiple law enforcement sources identified the deceased Monday afternoon as Desmond Owens and Clayton Dillard III. Both men were 26.

Police are still trying to find the shooters. The Nissan was found Monday afternoon in the Biscayne Canal at Northwest 154th Street and Second Avenue, according to law enforcement sources. The vehicle was reported stolen a few weeks ago.

A stolen white Nissan Pathfinder is towed out of a canal at Northwest 154th Street and Second Avenue on Monday afternoon, May 31, 2021. Miami-Dade County police say gunmen used the vehicle in a May 30 shooting that left two dead and 21 wounded.

Ramirez said detectives are working off some tips provided by the community, but he urged more people to come forward.

“You may be the victim, or your loved ones,” he said.

Like other shootings, investigators are hampered by people’s fear of retaliation if they go to police with information, and a code of silence on the streets.

The Miami Herald has obtained video of what is believed to be the white Nissan Pathfinder involved in Sunday’s mass shooting in Northwest Miami-Dade. In the video, the SUV is seen moving slowly through the parking lot before the shooting occurred.

El Mula Banquet Hall, located at 7630 NW 186th St., was hosting a Memorial Day weekend album release party Saturday night before the shooting. It featured live performances from local rappers, including ABMG Spitta, according to several fliers posted on social media.

Of the 21 wounded, three are in critical condition, and three have been released, including a 17-year-old boy who was shot in the leg, said Maj. Jorge Aguiar with Miami-Dade police’s homicide bureau.

Ramirez said the shooters likely waited in the parking lot for between 20 and 40 minutes before attacking.

Sunday morning’s shooting came just over a day after another mass shooting, this one in the Wynwood area, that left one person dead and six others wounded. The shooter in that crime fired more than a dozen bullets from inside a car into a crowd gathered outside a rented party space located near Northwest 20th Street and First Court.

Aguiar said the two shootings are not connected.

Since young people use social media so much, Ramirez said the clues to this and many other gun crimes will likely be found online. He said his investigators keep track of several groups in the area, which he said operate like gangs, but are not gangs in the traditional sense, as in, they don’t necessarily wear the same colors.

When asked if police know about the groups involved in the shooting, Ramirez said, “We know about all groups, but it’s hard to predict what these groups will do.”

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Keon Hardemon called the recent shootings “acts of domestic terrorism.”

“It’s meant to keep us from having a regular life in Miami-Dade County,” he said.

Of the shooters, he said, “They don’t deserve to have freedom.”

Levine Cava said the police are working with other state and federal agencies, including the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to arrest the shooters.

“This is unacceptable. We will do everything, everything, we can and use every resource available to bring these people to justice,” she said.

Like Ramirez, Levine Cava pleaded with people in the community to contact police if they have information about the shooters.

“We need your help. We need information. We need you to come forward if you have information about these crimes,” she said.

Millionaire Marcus Lemonis has offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest.

Levine Cava used Monday’s press conference to promote her “Peace and Prosperity” plan to combat gun violence. It proposes $90 million over 19 years on programs aimed at reaching at-risk children before they become involved in crime.

“This will help us tackle gun violence at its roots,” the mayor said.

The press conference was briefly interrupted when Clayton Dillard II — the grieving father of one of the deceased victims from Sunday’s shooting — emerged from behind a group of reporters, ran in front of cameras and screamed, presumably to the shooters, “You all killed my kid. You must burn!”

Police at the press conference quickly surrounded Dillard and pulled him inside the building, as he continued yelling.

“You’re gonna burn, you hear me,” Dillard said. “You killed a good kid. For no reason. You’re gonna burn.”

Ramirez immediately pointed to Dillard’s anguish as the embodiment of the grief the community is collectively going through with the increased gun violence.

“That is the pain that affects our community right there before you,” Ramirez said as police escorted Dillard away. “That’s why together, all of us, we must work harder to bring justice to these families who are crying as you hear right now. Know that the Miami-Dade Police Department will not stop. We will bring justice. Our community is united.”

Anyone with information on the shooting or shooters was asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.