MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A trip to South Florida took a tragic turn for a man from New York after, police said, he was shot and killed outside a restaurant in South Beach, Sunday morning.
Miami Beach Police responded to the scene, outside of News Cafe, near Eighth Street and Ocean Drive, just before 7 a.m. It wouldn’t be until Monday, that they would identify the victim as 30-year-old Lavon Walker, a father of two young children.
Those closest to the victim told 7News that he was a minister who was trying to make a difference in young lives and was also an anti-violence advocate.
“He has a newborn son who’s just 2 months old,” said Crown Height’s Community Mediation Center Director Amy Ellenbogen. “It’s been a shocking few days.”
Walker was a founding member of an anti-gun violence group called Save Our Streets Brooklyn.
The Facebook page for the group posted about the advocate and founder of the group. It read in part, “To us in the office, he was our heart. He was always smiling, cracking jokes and keeping us honest. He saw the vision for a violence-free Brooklyn. We send out condolences to his family and loved ones and will miss him forever. We will continue to do this work in his name. #stopshootingstartliving.”
Witnesses said they heard two shots. “All of a sudden, we hear the loudest gunshots,” said Tavin Reiter. “I just bolted out, and then I saw on the side of the street, the guy on the ground.”
One witness, an Uber driver who wished to remain anonymous, said he was close to the shooting. “I drove my car closer to the scene and tried to get the tag, but couldn’t see it,” he said. “I didn’t want to go too close, in case the shooter kept shooting.”
The Uber driver said he was sitting in his car when he saw three suspects walk up to the restaurant, and one of the suspects began shooting. “It did not look random because one guy had his gun pointed right at the individual,” said the driver.
Police said witnesses told them they also heard screeching tires, shortly after.
According to Miami Beach Police, detectives were able to recover a Jeep, Tuesday morning, that is believed to be involved in the shooting.
“The victim was transported to the scene to Ryder Trauma Center, where he did pass away,” said Miami Beach Police Officer Ernesto Rodriguez.
One of the restaurant’s damaged glass doors was visible as investigators searched for clues. “Our detectives are trying to piece together all the events that led up to this very unfortunate incident,” Rodriguez said.
Walker was sitting with 10 to 15 people, having breakfast before the shooting. “It’s kind of odd that nobody else came forward about this,” said an Uber driver. “He was with so many other people.”
The scene remained taped off until Sunday night.
Rodriguez said they are looking for three subjects in connection to the shooting. “Right now, what we’re looking for is three black males who apparently entered a newer model white Jeep Grand Cherokee with dark tinted windows,” he said. “We do not have information on that vehicle’s tag.”
Witnesses who rushed to the victim’s aid told 7News they had hoped for a different outcome and did all they could before paramedics arrived.
Among the good Samaritans was Rene Theisen, a trauma nurse from Washington, D.C. “We saw two gunshots, one on the leg and one on his flank,” she said. “I tried to be there for him, as best as I could, the way that I would want someone to be there for me.”
One resident said the shooting is not surprising and violence is a characteristic of Ocean Drive.
“Ocean Drive has become a 24-hour carnival-like crime-ridden circus,” said longtime Miami Beach resident Mitch Novick.
Surveillance video captured violence in the street just blocks away from the crime scene.
City officials said they’re taking action — in part by adding more officers in Feburary.
“We’re gonna have 12 additional officers in that entertainment district,” said Miami Beach Assistant City Manager Susana Torriente.
If you have any information on this shooting, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.
Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.