MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - The man accused of walking up and killing a father while he was eating with his family at a Miami Beach sidewalk café made an appearance before a judge, and the incident has renewed calls to make changes to the city’s entertainment district.
Dustin Wakefield, 21, was shot and killed on Tuesday while eating with his family at La Cerveceria, along the 1400 block of Ocean Drive.
“This is a 21-year-old man who is visiting from Colorado who senselessly lost his life,” Miami Beach Police spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez said.
Wakefield and his family were visiting Miami Beach at the time. He was a father to a 1-year-old son and was married.
“Very talented and very dedicated to church, but mostly to his family,” family friend Vicky Furr said.
“Dustin would frequently hang out in youth group with us and interact with all the youth group kids,” family friend William Furr said. “The death seems so needless, and death is always sad, but just knowing that there was no rhyme or reason to it just feels so pointless.”
The gunman initially aimed the weapon at Wakefield’s son, according to the family. Wakefield then said, “Don’t shoot my son. He’s just a baby.” The alleged gunman then turned and shot the child’s father.
“He said that he was high on mushrooms, and he just started shooting,” a prosecutor said in bond court on Wednesday.
Tamarius Blair Davis, Jr., 22, of Norcross, Georgia faces a second-degree murder charge for allegedly killing Wakefield.
Moments after the shooting, the alleged killer could be seen on cellphone video apparently dancing in the sidewalk café’s patio while holding a gun in his hand. As a woman screams, he walks to a nearby alleyway, where he would surrender to officers.
While he was being placed in handcuffs, the 22-year-old apparently confesses to the crime, yelling, “I did it! I did it! I did it!”
The victim was carted by police to 15th Street, where they would meet up with fire rescue crews. He was then transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he would be pronounced dead.
Sabrina Berlin, the victim’s cousin, spoke about her loved one over the phone.
“It’s really hard to know the best of us is gone, and he did do it trying to protect his son,” she said. “His dad was a hero and saved him.”
Police also said Davis was after another person before he allegedly shot and killed the 21-year-old father.
In surveillance video provided by the Miami Herald, Davis could be seen apparently pointing a handgun and firing a shot toward a man on the sidewalk near Ocean Drive. The shot he allegedly fired missed, police said.
“Was there an amount for the second-degree charge?” Davis asked Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Mindy Glazer.
“It’s no bond. You’re being held with no bond,” Glazer replied. “You shot and killed somebody in cold blood.”
Wakefield’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help support them as they grieve their loved one. Click here to be redirected to their fundraiser.
While the alleged killer appeared in court, residents said they are fed up and scared due to the rise in crime in the entertainment district, and they have filed complaints about it.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the entertainment district attracts people who are up to no good, who are looking for drugs and who carry guns.
“Until we get rid of this entertainment district and really, truly get rid of it, I don’t know why we expect something is going to change,” Gelber said. “At the end of the day, this is an area that attracts a lot of disorder. A lot of people want to fight. A lot of people who come with guns. A lot of people who are taking drugs, and that creates a very, very challenging mix.”
Mitch Novick, who owns the Sherbrooke Hotel on Ninth Street and Collins Avenue, said the tourist’s alleged murder did not come as a surprise. He added the entertainment district and blocked-off Ocean Drive have become a breeding ground for trouble.
“It’s horrifying, very troubling but not unpredictable,” he said. “I blame the city entirely. The closure of Ocean Drive has only fueled the, what is, a circus midway with their block party permit.”
However, getting rid of the entertainment district has proven challenging for officials.
Catering to the crowd brings in money for several of the city’s businesses. The mayor said those businesses have enough power to block the change.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, said the district has become a focus for some Miami Beach Police officers.
“Channel 7 themselves have, over the past year, shown dozens upon dozens of photos of rifles, of guns taken off of the street by our officers,” Rodriguez said. “We’re not here to hide any of that. That is what our officers are dealing with, and that is what they are tasked with each and every day.”
At this point, residents like Novick said they have no reason to believe that will change.
“This can be fixed overnight,” Novick said. “The way to do that is shut it down. The businesses need to be taken off the public right of way. They need to be brought inside, where they should operate like everyone else. Again, the policymakers allow for this circus to continue.”
Miami Beach Police said they continue to have stepped-up patrols in the entertainment district, especially on the weekend, in an effort to get guns and drugs off the streets and keep residents and visitors safe.
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