Towing company charged owners of cars caught in crossfire

(WSVN) - Imagine the fear of being in your car when it’s randomly shot up. Thankfully, the drivers are OK, but what happened next left the car owners fuming. 7’s Brian Entin investigates.

It was a massive crime scene.

A 9-year-old girl and a man both shot last month when gunfire rang out near a Hallandale Beach park.

Thankfully, both survived.

Others were caught in the crossfire.

Darnell Toney, driver: “It’s the most terrifying thing in the world. I never expected to be caught in the crossfire of a shootout, ever.”

Darnell Toney was sitting in his SUV when it was riddled with bullets.

But Darnell’s fear turned to frustration when his SUV became evidence.

Darnell Toney: “My vehicle was towed away. The police notified me to come and pick up my vehicle.”

Darnell showed up to AAAA Crosstown Towing and Recovery to get his car.

Darnell Toney: “First, they said I had to pay $400, then they said $514 and now they’re telling me $370 to retrieve my vehicle, and the detective called me and said that I shouldn’t have to pay anything according to the contract with the city.”

Greg Chavarria, Hallandale Beach City Manager: “In this case, it was very clear that the person did not have to pay.”

The city manager pointed us to this section of their contract with AAAA Crosstown Towing: “Vehicles seized for investigative purposes pursuant to the police department’s instructions shall be stored at no charge…”

Unless the police tell the company to charge the car owner, which the city said they did not do in this case.

But Darnell said for days, the towing company would not release his vehicle for free.

Darnell was upset and called us, so we went out to the towing lot.

He also called a police detective, who showed up to help.

The detective called city leaders.

Greg Chavarria: “It’s very unfortunate to hear these types of situations.”

While we were there, the owner of another car caught in the crime scene arrived.

Brandon: “Not only do I have to pay to get my vehicle fixed from being shot at, I also have to pay $514 to get my car back.”

He was sick of waiting, so he paid and left.

But we stuck around with Darnell, and so did the detective.

Eventually, the tow company released Darnell’s SUV for free.

Darnell Toney: “Oh, there it go right there!”

Brian Entin: “Is that your car right there?”

Darnell Toney: “Yes, sir.”

Darnell was happy to get his SUV back even though it was covered in bullet holes.

Darnell Toney: “One right here. Another one right here.”

7News wanted to know why AAAA Crosstown Towing was trying to charge the car owners in the first place.

Brian Entin: “Hi, I’m Brian Entin. I’m from 7News. Is there a manager or someone we can speak with? Nobody is here? We called yesterday looking for the owner.”

No one at the towing company would talk to us, and despite several calls, the owner never called us back. But Chavarria said he has been in touch with the towing company and has clarified the misunderstanding.

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