Reported gunfire, rowdy behavior in South Beach raise safety concerns amid pandemic

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - City leaders and visitors in South Beach are expressing concerns following reports of shots fired, scuffles and other rowdy behavior in the entertainment district.

Cellphone video captured the mayhem over the weekend, as revelers were seen twerking in the back seat of a convertible on Ocean Drive and even inside a fountain.

Another clip captured two women engaged in an intense hair-pulling fight near a sidewalk along Ocean Drive. Another woman is seen kicking a woman lying on the grass in the head.

Police have since made an arrest in connection with this fight.

A 7News crew spotted passers-by wearing masks with their noses exposed and others not observing social distancing.

Tourists on Monday said they’ve seen it all.

“There’s enough turmoil going on now, so dealing with that mess, it’s not tolerated,” said Demetrius Johnson.

Visitor Lee Lee Hamerter said she thought she heard gunshots on Eighth Street, Sunday night.

“It’s senseless, and I’m all the way from Alabama. I’m visiting, and I’m here to have a good time, and I heard gunshots, and I just take off running with everybody else,” she said.

In a Facebook post Monday, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber wrote, “The behavior in the entertainment district is beyond unacceptable. I’ve urged our manager and chief of police to take decisive actions immediately.”

“We need you to engage. We need you to protect your residents and businesses,” said Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales in a video message. “We need you to make sure that our visitors respect our community and treat it with the appropriate consideration.”

The stern warnings comes after a string of similar incidents over the past month.

Bullets flew, along with chairs and tables, outside Voodoo Lounge, June 30.

The previous day, Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements addressed the recurring chaos.

“This has been the most difficult environment that I’ve had to deal with in 30 years,” he said.

Clements said he would put more boots on the ground. Two weeks later, Gelber is asking him to do more.

With bars closed but stores still selling spirits, some are taking packaged liquor to the streets.

When a 7News crew asked a man what he had in the glass he was holding, he replied, “I got me some old Hennessy.”

City leaders said they’re concerned the entertainment district is becoming an outdoor club, and that can lead to other problems.

Gelber said he’s calling for immediate action to get a handle on the situation unfolding in South Beach.

Police looked into Hamerter’s claim that she heard gunfire and said they found no evidence that shots were fired.

City officials did not immediately respond to 7News’ request for more details about specific changes and future plans in the midst of the pandemic.

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