SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Police are investigating a drive-by shooting at a strip mall in Southwest Miami-Dade that left a teenage girl dead outside a hookah lounge.
Miami-Dade Police units rushed to the scene in the area of Southwest 26th Street and 122nd Avenue, just before 2 a.m., Friday.
7News cameras captured the 17-year-old victim, identified by her friend as Gabriella Aldana, suffering from injuries to her head being wheeled into Kendall Regional Medical Center’s trauma center where she later succumbed to her injuries.
“That girl is a good girl. Beautiful girl. Sweet girl. She don’t have a problem with anybody,” said Doisnel Mirtell, a friend of the victim.
Officials said the teenager was standing in a shopping center’s parking lot when a car approached her. Shots were fired from inside the vehicle, fatally injuring the girl.
“Please keep in mind that this was a 17-year-old who had a full life ahead of her,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Angel Rodriguez.
No other injuries were reported from the shooting.
The car fled the scene and police have since issued a “be on the lookout” notice for three men in a black Mercedes-Benz.
Police now hope someone in the area spotted the vehicle involved.
“Any little bit of information that can help solve this crime to get these dangerous individuals out of our streets,” said Rodriguez. “Remember, they are armed and dangerous.”
7News caught up with a friend of the victim to ask if he had any idea of why she may have been targeted.
“Not really, that’s why I was asking [police],” the man said.
Possible witnesses coming in and out of the hookah lounge were seen talking with officers.
Ale Hjeij, owner of Hookah Palace, said he doesn’t personally know the victim but has seen the same people hanging out in the parking lot late at night in the past.
Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho reacted to the deadly shooting on Twitter.
“It is infuriatingly unacceptable that three teens in our community have fallen victim to gun violence this week alone,” he wrote. “Two of them lost their lives. This cannot stand. A community that fails to protect its youth fails us all and fails our future.”
While the search for the shooter continues, loved ones took to social media to pay tribute to Aldana and offer support to her family. Her GoFundMe page is titled “Rest in Peace Gabi.”
The scene in the parking lot wrapped up Friday afternoon, but police are asking anyone who was in the area and may have seen the Mercedes to come forward.
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 $1,000 reward.
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