The two men held for questioning in the shooting of eight people during a Martin Luther King Day Parade were arrested, but on unrelated weapons charges.
Tavarius Flowers, 29 and Alexander Brito-Peralta, 28, were charged with carrying concealed weapons. Flowers was also charged with child abuse.
Both men were taken to Turner Guilford Knight correctional facility, where they remained Tuesday. Flower’s bond was set at $10,000, Brito-Peralta’s at $5,000.
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Miami-Dade police say that Flowers was detained shortly after Monday’s shooting because he matched a description of the shooter. According to his arrest affidavit, he “simultaneously stated he dropped his gun under the playground to find his kid.”
Police said they recovered a 9mm Taurus Millenium semi-automatic handgun. Flowers told police he grabbed his gun from his waistband when he heard gunshots and stuck his three kids under the playground set.
Brito-Peralta was taken into custody, police said, after officers noticed a gun in his waistband. Police said they haven’t ruled out the two being involved in the shootings, they just haven’t yet gathered enough evidence to charge them.
At 3:40 p.m. Monday, shortly after the annual Martin Luther King Day Parade along Northwest 54th Street had finished, hundreds gathered in the Brownsville park that bears the name of the civil rights icon on Northwest 62nd Street and 32nd Court, for food, drink and laughter.
But gunfire erupted near an open field in the park’s south end, causing a mad scramble, with some injured during a stampede to get out of the park and others diving under benches.
During the chaos, some were driven to the hospital by friends and family, while others were taken by ambulance. In at least one case, a witness said an ambulance had to wait until the street was cleared of people before heading to the hospital.
After a few hours, police finally determined that eight people had been shot. Five of them were juveniles, two of whom were treated at the shooting scene and released to their parents.
Of the eight victims, only 20-year-old Jerome Battle was in critical condition. Police said Shawnteria Wilson, 18, Alfanesha Timesages, 17 and Michael Clarke, 30, were also struck but were in stable condition. Also in stable condition were 15-year-old Nakya-Senat Butler and Lajada Benson, 14.
The shooting took place just a few hours after another civil rights leader, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, spoke at the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project on Watson Island and urged the audience to “never, ever hate.”
Miami, however, wasn’t alone in gunfire ruining what was supposed to be a day of celebration and remembrance of one of the nation’s great leaders.
In Jacksonville, two teens were shot and one was killed during a shooting at Jacksonville Landing after the parade there had ended. And in Hallandale Beach, one man was killed and two others were injured after gunfire erupted near the route of that city’s Martin Luther Kind Day Parade.
The shootings in Miami-Dade on Monday also brought back fresh memories of another bloody day in the county exactly 20 years ago. That day, 5-year-old Rickia Isaac was killed by a stray bullet while walking home from the MLK Day Parade.
Though no one was killed during Monday’s shooting, the bloodshed has reinvigorated a fight against youth gun violence that has been waged in Miami-Dade over the past decade. A Miami Herald investigation last year showed that 316 teens and children were lost to gunfire in the decade from 2007 through 2016.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, who oversees the Brownsville district where the shooting happened on Monday, issued a statement saying that “senseless gun violence at any time is absurd, but senseless violence in the midst of a celebration is particularly absurd.”
“I cannot say it enough,” Edmonson said. “This violence has to end.”
Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez is expected to answer questions about the shooting at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park Tuesday afternoon. The police department is also likely to offer a reward.