WSVN — She was an innocent bystander chatting with a group of friends when a gunman opened fire. In just seconds, Denise Tyree lost her life. As Patrick Fraser tells us on tonight’s Out For Justice, detectives need your help in bringing her killer to justice.

Simply put, Denise Tyree was special. Proof? On her last day on Earth, she was thinking about people who would not have a meal that week.

Mary Farrell: “She fed the homeless, and so she had planned to do a Thanksgiving dinner to feed the homeless.”

That wasn’t uncommon. That was Denise Tyree.

Brenda Berkman: “She loved people. She just cared.”

Luis G. recognized that the first time he met Denise.

Luis G.: “Denise was the mother of my daughter, Carmen. I’ve never met before or since anybody like that. That was the girl of my dreams, taken away one night by a coward with a gun.”

That’s right. On Nov. 23, 1998, with Thanksgiving approaching, Denise was standing outside a store in Opa-locka with some friends. A few other people were nearby.

Miami-Dade Police Detective Daniel Aiken: “A white colored vehicle pulled up in front of the location, and a male exited that vehicle armed with an assault rifle and began to fire into the crowd. She was struck immediately.”

The suspect, wearing a ski mask and firing an AK-47, hit three people. Denise was killed. Luis got the call at home.

Luis G.: “I flew out of the house and turned on the radio and it said, ‘Bloodbath in Opa-locka.’ They were already reporting on this.”

Detectives quickly found out why the coward, hiding his face, started firing away.

Detective Daniel Aiken: “They learned there was a dispute going on between several individuals, one of whom usually hangs out at that location, and the individual returned to that location and opened fire into the crowd.”

It happened here 17 years ago. A couple of things are very clear. Denise had nothing to do with the shooter or the people they were after. She just happened to be standing here.

Brenda Berkman: “She wasn’t the target, but she was the one that suffered, and we suffer every day because of that.”

Secondly and also indisputable: Someone, maybe several people in that group outside the store, know who the killer was, but for 17 years, they have been afraid to tell police.”

Detective Daniel Aiken: “Some people fear, because it’s a neighborhood thing and they live there, they fear retaliation. Their families live there. Some people don’t want to get involved, simply, until it hits their front door.”

It hit Luis’ front door that day, and the pain keeps banging away.

Luis G. “It’s been ’98 to now. Seventeen years, and it still burns the same the pain because the world lost a great human being that day. She had passed away. She had passed away. She had lost her life at the hand of some thoughtless, despicable human being.”

If someone killed your loved one, you would be furious, angry. But Denise was a loving, caring person, just like her mother, who wants the killer caught. But…

Mary Farrell: “I had one detective ask me, if I found him, would I want him to get the chair? I’m not like that. I know what it’s like to lose a child, so I wouldn’t want to put that mother through anything like that.”

Remember that Thanksgiving dinner Denise was going to cook for the homeless in 1998? It still got cooked. While Denise was laying in a casket, her mother did it for her.

Mary Farrell: “I’m in the kitchen cooking and crying, saying, ‘You supposed to be here to cook this food, not me!’ So, it was kind of rough.”

Rough, painful, horrible. Seventeen years have passed. It’s time to make that call to point the finger at the man in the ski mask who killed a young woman who cared so much for so many.

Mary Farrell: “Her life meant something.”

Pick up the phone and call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers. It’s now the time.

And if you have lost a loved one and want to let people know you are still out for justice, give us a call. With this Out For Justice, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Miami-Dade: 305-598-HELP (4357)
Broward: 954-796-HELP (4357)

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