Many youngsters at Miami nightclub during shooting
MIAMI (AP) — At The Spot, customers can typically buy beer, listen to music and eat fried conch or chicken wings. “Teen nights” at the restaurant and lounge had recently been drawing large crowds, and there were scores of young people there about 1 a.m. Sunday when police said a shooting erupted, wounding 15, including an 11-year-old girl.
Miami-Dade police said they were interviewing witnesses and the owner. On Monday, authorities hadn’t released a motive for the shooting or said why so many young people — the victims ranged in age from 11 to their mid-20s — were at the restaurant and lounge.
Mike Brown, who lives just a few houses away, said he heard the gunshots and teens started running toward his house.
“People are hitting the floor, people are running this way, people are jumping the gate,” Brown said. “Everybody was running my way saying, ‘They’re shooting inside the club.’”
Surveillance video from a neighboring furniture store showed young people pouring out of the building on foot and cars driving away from the parking lot.
Brown said he had hung out at The Spot several times, calling it a chill place that serves beer and soft drinks. The Spot had a license to sell wine, beer and food, according to records at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
It wasn’t clear if The Spot was serving alcohol at the time of the shooting. Police said Sunday they were still trying to figure out if there was a private party going on.
A phone number for The Spot was out of service. A message left for John Stuart, who was listed as The Spot’s president, was not immediately returned Monday.
Among those hit by gunfire were five girls ranging in age from 11 to 17, Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll said. Most of the wounded had been treated and released, but four people remained hospitalized Monday — one was in critical condition and the others were in good condition, Jackson Health System spokeswoman Jennifer Piedra said.
The windows at The Spot have thick black bars on them, like most of the homes in the impoverished African-American residential neighborhood of Liberty City, which has been marred by violence over the years.
Until recently, Brown said The Spot catered to adults, but Saturday’s new teen nights were drawing crowds of people that liked to walk back and forth between The Spot and a convenience store across the street.
“Ever since they’ve been having that little teen thing, it’s not been good,” he said.
The doors were closed to The Spot on Monday and there were no hints that a shooting had happened inside when a reporter looked through the windows. Tables and chairs and a juke box lined the cramped, dark space. Cups, paper towels and a mustard bottle were on the counter.
Outside, yellow and blue paint advertised a happy hour and Wi-Fi. A sun, palm tree and ocean were painted on the outside of the building.
Joseph Charron, who works for a security company across the street, said police cars often patrolled the neighborhood on weekend nights.
“Oh yeah, it’s (packed) solid” on the weekend,” Charron said. “A lot of adults. I don’t see kids usually.”
Jennifer Kay contributed to this report.