Spring break in South Beach got off to a chaotic start this weekend. Miami Beach Police were forced to shut down Ocean Drive Friday night as a wave of brawls swept through the crowd. The next night, the revelry turned bloody.
As horrified partiers looked on, 20-year-old Antoinne Decade was shot in the chest just after midnight Saturday in the middle of Ocean Drive. Miami Beach Police officers swarmed the scene within seconds, but they couldn't save Decade or catch his shooter.
The violence is the latest challenge for city leaders who have struggled to balance Ocean Drive's late-night party vibe with calls to clean up the area. Commissioners last year banned late-night outdoor liquor sales and formed a task force to look into the area's problems.
Police got their first worrying hint of violence at this year's spring break early Friday night. As thousands poured onto Ocean Drive after dark, fistfights broke out in the crowd. Before 7 p.m., MBPD decided to shut down the iconic stretch and disperse the partygoers.
Ocean Drive closed between 7 Street - 10 Street due to large crowds. #traffic— Miami Beach Police (@MiamiBeachPD) March 11, 2016
Saturday night would bring worse problems for the force, though. The trouble began just after midnight, police say, when a fistfight broke out near Ninth Street and Ocean Drive. Amid the fighting was Antoinne Decade, a 20-year-old Miamian out celebrating his brother's birthday.
Around 12:40 a.m., someone pulled a gun and shot Decade in the chest as spring breakers scattered for safety. "Large spring break crowds were present when the event occurred," Officer Ernesto Rodriguez, a department spokesperson, says in a statement.
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The shooter escaped into the throngs of partiers. Detectives shut down two blocks of Ocean Drive and interviewed witnesses while medics tried to save Decade, who died on the scene.
About ten minutes later, another shooting was reported, near Seventh Street and Ocean Drive, though no one was hit. It's not clear if that shooting is tied to Decade's murder.
By last night, MBPD had taken in a "person of interest" in the homicide and was interviewing him at police headquarters, Rodriguez says. No arrests have been made yet, but Rodriguez notes that the "investigation indicates the parties involved are residents of Miami-Dade County and are known to each other."
As for city leaders, this weekend's bloodshed will likely spur another heated debate about how to handle the late-night scene on Miami Beach's most famous beachfront strip.