MIAMI GARDENS — Gunfire erupted near where rapper French Montana was filming a music video late Thursday, leaving several wounded in a South Florida strip mall parking lot. He was not injured.
Several witnesses told reporters that the music video involved the 38-year-old rapper, and that he was unhurt. His publicist did not respond to emails seeking comment Friday and police did not confirm he was present.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were shot at around 8 p.m. Thursday, but the Miami Herald cited a law enforcement source saying as many as 10 people were wounded. The shooting took place outside The Licking, a soul food restaurant in a Miami Gardens strip mall.
Investigators were looking into reports that a music video was being filmed at the restaurant, Miami Gardens Police Chief Delma Noel-Pratt said.
“We believe it’s an isolated incident,” Noel-Pratt said.
Miami Gardens police spokesperson Diana Gourgue told reporters that she could not confirm reports that as many as 10 people had been wounded, saying “right now it is just multiple victims that were injured.”
She said the condition of those hurt was unknown, but there were not any fatalities.
A large crowd had gathered outside the restaurant at the time of the shooting, she said.
The police department did not return repeated calls Friday seeking an update. A worker at the restaurant Friday said no one was available to discuss the shooting. A sign on the door reads “No firearms or weapons allowed on this property.”
Miami rapper CED Mogul told reporters that the shooting happened after someone had their Rolex watch and car keys stolen. He said the video was supposed to be shot at a nearby KFC restaurant, but was moved after an altercation. The city’s police chief told reporters that the video’s producers had not gotten the necessary permits.
French Montana was shot in the head and seriously wounded in 2003 when two gunmen opened fire outside a New York City recording studio. One of the gunmen accidentally shot the other, killing him.
French Montana, who was born in Morocco and whose real name is Karim Kharbouch, is best known for his 2017 album “Jungle Rules” and its lead single “Unforgettable,” which made the Top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
The strip mall in Miami Gardens is on a major six-lane highway and is 2 miles south of Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the Miami Dolphins, six Super Bowls, the Miami Grand Prix Formula 1 race and the Miami Open tennis tournament. The city of 115,000 residents has the worst homicide rate in the state, according to FBI statistics, with one violent death for every 4,400 residents in 2019, the last year available.
A shop owner in the strip mall said Friday that he was working late Thursday in a back room when he and his business partner heard loud sounds. He thought it was a car backfiring, but his partner thought it might be gunfire. About five minutes later, police and paramedics started arriving and they looked outside and saw the chaos.
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“Most of the shootings around here are personal, not random,” the shop owner said. He asked that his name not be used, fearing retribution. “Most are about greed or money.”
By TERRY SPENCER and BRENDAN FARRINGTON, Associated Press. Farrington reported from Tallahassee, Florida.