Dutch Tourist Fatally Shot During Robbery in Miami
MIAMI (AP) _ A Dutch tourist was fatally shot this morning after she and her husband got lost in a high-crime neighborhood and pulled into a gas station to ask for directions.
It was the first slaying of a tourist in Florida since late 1993, when 10 fatal attacks on foreign visitors damaged the Sunshine State’s image as a vacation haven.
The 42-year-old Dutch woman and her husband stopped at a Shell station in the Liberty City section shortly before 10 a.m. for directions, police said. The neighborhood northwest of downtown is a blighted section and was the scene of race riots in 1980.
Two men approached their rental car to rob them, and the woman was shot in the upper torso as she sat in the passenger seat, Metro-Dade police Detective Brian Calloway said.
``One man went up to the car and `boom, boom, boom, boom,′ ″ said one witness, holding up his hand as if it were a gun.
The husband was not wounded, and the gunmen fled in a car.
Witnesses at the scene who would not give their names said a third man stayed in the getaway car. Calloway said police were searching for a four-door car with tinted windows.
The woman, whose identity was not released, was taken by ambulance to Jackson Memorial Hospital and died two hours later, hospital spokeswoman Ann Lynn Denker said.
Today’s attack was reminiscent of two fatal slayings of German tourists in 1993. That September, Uwe-Wilhelm Rakebrand, 33, of Germany, was shot to death after his rental car was bumped from behind on a Miami expressway just after he arrived in the country. At the time of the attack, his wife was reading a pamphlet advising tourists what action to take when bumped in traffic.
Barbara Meller Jensen, 39, of Berlin, was killed by robbers April 2, 1993, when she, her two children and her mother got lost and strayed off an interstate highway into a northeast Miami neighborhood.
The last fatal attack on a tourist in Florida was on Mahmet Bahar, 17, of Turkey, who was beaten to death Sept. 17, 1993, in Tampa after an apparent traffic altercation.
After the murders, Miami took a series of steps to safeguard tourists and protect the city’s international image as a tourist getaway.
Car rental companies were told to get rid of any telltale markings or license plates used by those who victimize tourists.
Tourists now can rent high-tech cars with an electronic mapping system and a panic button that will give police their location. Or they can use new roadside tourist phones to call for help and visit special police stations near frequently used highway exits. New highway signs with sunburst symbols lead them to hotels, where they’ll be given more safety tips.
In waiting areas at Miami International Airport, visitors can watch a police video on safety tips, including warnings not to pull over on dark streets to look at maps.