It was one of the most brazen shootings in Miami's recent memory. Last September 27, while a crowd of young men and women danced and partied inside a small nightclub on NW 7th Avenue called The Spot, dozens of bullets suddenly rained upon the club igniting instant chaos. No one was killed, but 15 were injured by the gunfire, including one 11-year-old girl. Most of the other victims were also underage, because it was "teen night" at the club.
Prosecutors soon identified an athletic, sociable 17-year-old named Will Campbell as the suspected shooter, charing him with 15 counts of attempted premeditated murder. But earlier today, he struck a plea deal to drop all but one of those counts and to avoid further jail time.
Instead, he'll get six years of probation in exchange for pleading guilty to one count of second degree attempted murder. Prosecutors say they were hampered in going after tougher charges by witnesses unwilling to cooperate with the case.
“So many of these cases are made more difficult by problems obtaining information from victims and witnesses,” Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, tells New Times.
Campbell's defense praised the sentence, though. "Even though he's young, he must grow up," Richard Gregg, Campbell's lawyer, told the judge, the Miami Herald reported. "It's more than a fair resolution."
Campbell's sentence includes two years of house arrest and four years of probation. He'll soon be released from jail because of credit for time already served, and that the state's case against him was made difficult by a lack of reliable witnesses,.
Campbell was the subject of a New Times feature earlier this year, with friends and relatives describing him as an unlikely candidate for a mass shooter.
"He was a quiet kid," Herman Williams, who coached Campbell in youth sports, told New Times. "Good kid. I don't know what happened to him when he got older, but as a younger kid, he was pretty good."
Other acquaintances remembered Campbell as a boisterous young man who was popular with girls, was good at math, and had a thirst for adrenaline. He grew up in the Pork n' Beans project and posted on social media about Bob Marley and Drake; he also appeared in pictures brandishing weapons. He was alleged to have opened fire in the club after another teen, Jamiroquai Young, pointed out Trevon Simmons, a 15-year-old who was Campbell's intended target.
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Simmons was critically wounded in the stomach. Young was also charged with 15 counts of attempted premeditated murder, and is awaiting trial.
While Liberty City is home to a disproportionate amount of gun violence, the shooting at The Spot was particularly alarming to residents, because it was especially brazen and because of the shockingly young ages of most of its victims.
"That rung out in Liberty City," Agnes Strange, a local resident, told New Times earlier this year. "The crowd that was there — they should have been escorted to the skating rink... That's what really knocked a lot of people off their feet."