DANIA BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A child was shot and killed while walking home from a children’s birthday party in Dania Beach, Wednesday night, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
BSO deputies responded to a reported shooting along Northwest Ninth Avenue, near Second Street, just before 7:40 p.m.
Two adult relatives were also shot, and officials said, it is likely they were targeted. “When deputies arrived, they found three victims had been shot,” said BSO spokesperson Veda Coleman-Wright. “One adult male, one adult female and a child – a little boy.”
7News captured a grandmother consumed by grief, collapsing behind the crime scene tape when she learned her 8-year-old grandson, Rashid Cunningham Jr., had been shot to death.
Family members confirmed it was the boy’s aunt and cousin that had also been gunned down.
“I heard rapid gun fire,” said one neighbor, Antwon Black. “Consistent ‘pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow.'”
According to neighbors, Rashid and a group of family and friends were coming home from a party when a car pulled up and opened fire.
Witness Veronica Larkins said she saw the shooter, but he was wearing a mask. “I thought it was fireworks until I actually seen the person point down like they’re shooting,” she said.
Rashid’s grandfather, Rodney Daughtry, said if it wasn’t for 31-year-old Brandon Cunningham shielding the kids from the bullets, more young lives could have been lost. “My granddaughter just had a birthday party,” he said. “My grand kid gets killed on my granddaughter’s birthday. Thank God for one of my nephews. He got shot nine times in the back, but he saved like seven kids, so…”
“The guy that was over [Rashid], trying to shield him, we had to move him out the way just to get to him,” said neighbor Sonia Hughes.
All victims were transported to local hospitals with gunshot wounds. However, Rashid later succumbed to his injuries. “Great kid,” said a neighbor. “Great football player. Very smart in school.”
Distraught family members gathered outside of the hospital after receiving the devastating news, while members of the community also came together near the crime scene, praying to stop the violence.
“The people have to police themselves,” said a local Pastor, James Christopher Howard. “We can’t wait for BSO, we can’t wait for any other force. We gotta police ourselves, we gotta stand up to stop the violence.”
Daughtry also took to the radio to plea for an end to the violence. “He was a smart kid, a good athlete. There wasn’t nothing he couldn’t play,” he told HOT 105 FM.
The shooting is the fourth in Dania Beach since Sunday, BSO officials said. “It started on December 25th,” said Wright. “So far in these shootings, there have been two deaths.”
On Christmas Day, a 25-year-old man was killed while walking near Northwest Sixth Avenue and Second Street, just a couple of blocks away from where Cunningham was killed. Deputies said they believe at least three of the shootings are connected.
According to BSO, they have increased the number of deputies patrolling the area. The investigation is ongoing.
If you have any information on this shooting, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.
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