(WSVN) - Two men were caught on camera shooting out of a car in broad daylight, but they won’t be spending any time behind bars and that’s got some questioning why. 7’s Brian Entin investigates.
They’re on a busy stretch of Miami Beach … and they’re firing guns in the air from a convertible.
Shot after shot near Collins Avenue.
Stephanie Sang, witness: “It was just so random. They were just driving by, and they were shooting. I don’t even know what they were shooting at.”
Pedro Balomo, neighbor: “It could have been one of us walking by. A bullet is a bullet.”
Miami Beach Police quickly tracked down this red convertible and arrested 22-year-old Melvin Vargas and 27-year-old Jean Pierre Rondon.
The pair was charged with improper exhibition of a firearm and discharging a firearm from a vehicle back in March.
Fast forward five months later — a plea deal. No jail or prison time. Two years probation. They had to forfeit the guns, take a gun safety course and pay $100 fines.
Jeff Feldman, Miami Beach resident: “Letting these guys go firing weapons in the air sends the message that you can get away with almost anything here.”
Jeff Feldman lives on Miami Beach and leads a crime fighting community group.
He’s not happy the duo won’t spend time behind bars.
Jeff Feldman: “Those bullets came down somewhere. That could have landed in someone’s kitchen, that could have hit a child, that could have killed a nun for all we know. I mean, it could have hit anybody.”
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office turned down an on-camera interview about the plea deal, but 7News obtained this document that says the prosecutor “…extended a plea offer taking into consideration the Miami Beach Police Department’s recommendation of two years probation.”
But Miami Beach Police say they never made that recommendation. A spokesman with the department says one of the arresting officers doesn’t even remember meeting with the State Attorney’s Office. And the other officer says at most, he just agreed to the state’s recommendation.
We tried to talk to the two men but they didn’t answer their door.
Brian Entin: “Do you think they learned their lesson?”
Erick Cruz, attorney: “One hundred percent.”
One of their attorneys says the men cooperated with police, confessed and deserves a second chance.
Erick Cruz: “From day one they were extremely apologetic. I mean, they realize that what they did was something incredibly stupid. They put a lot of people at risk.”
Jeff Feldman: “I understand about being young and making mistakes, but we need the message to be clear that Miami Beach is not a place to come shooting weapons.”
In addition to no prison time, the court also “withheld adjudication” on their charges, which means the men will not be convicted felons.
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