The Day

Miami Beach struggles with spring break violence, big crowds


— For the third year in a row, Miami Beach finds itself struggling with spring break violence, including two fatal shootings and unruly crowds, despite a massive police presence and activities designed to give people alternativ­es to drinking alcohol and roaming the streets.

The party-all-the-time vibe in the South Beach section of the barrier island city has already led officials to ban alcohol sales at larger clubs after 2 a.m. Police are stationed everywhere, including in mobile towers that give officers a birds-eye view of the streets. Art, music, yoga and volleyball tournament­s were added this year to give people something to do, at least during the day.

Yet the violence continues at night. All night.

The city imposed an overnight curfew that ended Monday morning and is considerin­g imposing another one next weekend. It’s the third straight year city officials have approved such restrictio­ns — something Mayor Dan Gelber wants to stop.

“The volume of people in our city, the unruly nature of too many and the presence of guns has created a peril that cannot go unchecked,” Gelber said in a video statement issued Sunday. “It is clear that even an unpreceden­ted police presence could not prevent these incidents from occurring.”

Gelber added: “We don’t ask for spring break in our city. We don’t want spring break in our city,”

Miami Beach police reported at least 322 arrests on a variety of charges between Feb. 27 and Sunday. Gelber said more than 70 firearms were confiscate­d in that time. This has been happening despite police officers working up to 14-hour shifts six days a week, according to a city emergency declaratio­n.

The latest shooting happened at around 3:30 a.m. Sunday on Ocean Drive in South Beach, police said. A man was shot and died later at a hospital, and officers chased down a suspect on foot, police said on Twitter. Their identities were not released, nor were any possible charges.

Grainy security footage being shared on social media shows a man pulling a gun from underneath his T-shirt and firing multiple shots, striking another man as crowds quickly scattered.

“Next thing I know, I started hearing about two shots. I got low and got scared,” Travis Turner, a bystander from Michigan, told WSVN-TV.

On Friday night, one man was killed and another was seriously injured in a shooting that sent panicked crowds scrambling from restaurant­s and clubs into the streets. Police detained one person at the scene and found four firearms, but no other details have been made available.

Under the curfew, people must leave businesses before midnight, although hotels can operate later only in service to their guests. A Miami Beach news release said restaurant­s can stay open only for delivery and the curfew won’t apply to residents, people going to and from work, emergency services and hotel guests. Some roads will be closed off and arriving hotel guests may have to show proof of their reservatio­ns.

 ?? D.A. VARELA/MIAMI HERALD VIA AP ?? Crowds walk up and down Ocean Drive during spring break on Saturday in Miami Beach, Fla.
D.A. VARELA/MIAMI HERALD VIA AP Crowds walk up and down Ocean Drive during spring break on Saturday in Miami Beach, Fla.

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