MIAMI (AP) — Police in South Florida announced “Operation Summer Heat” to combat escalating gun violence as a third person died from a gunshot wound suffered during a mass shooting outside a banquet hall near Miami.
Shankquia Peterson, 32, died on Thursday afternoon, Miami-Dade police said in a news release.
She was among the 23 people shot early Sunday during a rapper’s album release party at the El Mula Banquet Hall. Two of the victims remained in critical condition at a hospital, police said.
Other gun violence over the past week included a car chase and shooting near a Miami casino, a mass shooting in Wynwood that left one dead and six wounded and a shooting outside a South Beach restaurant that left a man paralyzed and a rapper behind bars.
The motive for the banquet hall shooting is still unknown, but investigators were focusing on social-media feuds involving the local rappers who hosted the show, the Miami Herald reported. This includes two rival groups whose tensions go back years and have been fueled by threats made online and in rap lyrics, according to the Herald.
“A lot of these violent acts you’re seeing on their social media. You’re seeing them call each other out, they’re giving verbal cues,” Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez said during Thursday’s press conference. “Some of the songs have verbal cues that are triggering rolling violence, real-time violence. Back in the ’90s it was drug turf wars. Here it’s a little bit of that but a lot of it is showing off.”
Peterson's relatives told news outlets she had a bullet lodged in her head and had been in a medically induced coma since the shooting.
“Our family wants the gun violence to end, for these predators to be caught. This shooting has shaken the family to its core,” Peterson's family said in a statement.
Two 26-year-old men, Desmond Owens and Clayton Dillard III, also died in the banquet hall shooting.
Police said they've confirmed there were multiple shooters “from various locations" outside the banquet hall. Surveillance video shows some of the shooters arrived in a Nissan Pathfinder late Saturday night and parked close to banquet hall.
The video shows three people getting out of the vehicle, one gripping a handgun while the other two carried what police described as “assault-style rifles.” Another video showed another person shooting from a different angle, news outlets reported.
The crowd had been waiting to get inside for an album release party by Courtney Paul Wilson, 24, better known as rapper ABMG Spitta.
Authorities said the suspects began spraying bullets indiscriminately into the crowd, but had specific targets in mind.
The Pathfinder had been reported stolen earlier, and was found Monday submerged in a canal several miles away.
There is a reward of up to $130,000 for information that leads to an arrest of the people responsible.
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