MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A brawl that broke out outside of a nightclub in South Beach spiraled out of control, leading to shots fired and adding to growing safety concerns from city and police officials.
Cellphone video captured bystanders running for cover along the 900 block of Ocean Drive, just after 1 a.m., Tuesday.
According to Miami Beach Police, the chaotic series of events started when two people were denied entry to Voodoo Lounge because they didn’t have identification.
A fight ensued. Women were seen throwing chairs and turning over tables.
Surveillance video showed the escalating mayhem from a different angle.
Minutes later, police said, a man pepper-sprayed a security guard. Not long after, two shots were fired into the air.
The gunfire could be heard on cellphone video of the incident.
Police said no one was hurt.
The incident took place hours after city leaders discussed the entertainment district during their commission meeting, Monday.
“One operator on Ocean Drive told me that he thought it was the worst situation he’s seen in 30 years,” said Miami Beach Commissioner David Richardson.
“Yes, he’s right. It’s been the most difficult environment that I’ve had to deal with in 30 years,” said Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements.
Amid local businesses closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ocean Drive is off limits to vehicular traffic, which, city leaders said, could be contributing to another problem.
“It seems to me that Ocean Drive has become an open air bar,” said Richardson.
It has become a space where the drinks are “byob” and, according to police, in some cases, their presence isn’t much of a deterrent.
Tuesday’s scuffle comes days after a similar scene unfolded just west of Ocean Drive along Ninth Street.
“One of our officers tried to go up and take a bottle of tequila away from a young man who immediately went ahead and said, ‘You’re not taking it,'” said Clements, “so that’s what we’re getting.”
Tuesday afternoon, Voodoo Lounge was shut down. City officials cited violations to the emergency measures, and it will stay closed for the duration of the emergency period.
Clements said he’s putting more boots on the ground to try and get the situation under control, in an effort to avoid another violent night.
Police said the man who discharged the weapon and the man who pepper sprayed the security guard took off running and remain at large. They urge anyone with information on their whereabouts to call Miami Beach Police at 305-673-7900.
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