Neighbors are a lot like family members. You don't really get to pick them, and if you get bad ones, you're stuck with them. Sometimes fights escalate — neighbor-on-neighbor violence is so common that the Investigation Discovery channel has an entire (terrible) series devoted to the matter called Fear Thy Neighbor.
This week, New Times published an 11,000-word deep dive into a years-long neighborhood dispute in The Roads, a lush neighborhood southwest of downtown Miami. The tale — which includes numerous run-ins with the police, surveillance cameras, restraining orders, accusations of witchcraft, and charges of aggravated stalking — needs to be read to be believed. In honor of what might truly be the most epic tale of Miami neighbor animosity of all time, here's a recap of some of the other absurd neighborly disputes New Times has chronicled over the years.
Donald Shockey believes everyone deserves to live in a clean neighborhood. When he lived in Miami Shores from 2001 to 2014, he didn't have much of an issue because, he says, that city's code-enforcement division was well funded and did a good job of making residents clean up their trash. But when Shockey moved into a home on NW 41st Street in the City of Miami in 2014, he says, he found a neighborhood in disarray.
"There are vacant lots that are constantly overgrown," he says. "Junk cars sitting there with no license plates. Just many, many blatant code and sanitation violations, and the neighborhood is very, very trashy as a result."
So Shockey began calling code enforcement to report his neighbors' violations. Then, this past weekend, he says, someone lit his car on fire.
On Friday, Shockey — the former vice mayor of Miami Shores — says he was sleeping when he heard a commotion outside. He walked out his front door to see a group of cops and fire trucks outside his home. He turned a corner to see his 2014 Chevrolet Cruze engulfed in 20-foot-high flames. Fire was shooting from all four wheel wells, he says.
"I'm 1,000 percent convinced it was retaliation," he tells New Times. "I'm also 1,000 percent convinced the City of Miami does a terrible job of code enforcement. And it turns out people don’t like code enforcement. The neighbors on my block are already furious with me."
Neighborly feuds aren't particularly uncommon, but most don't escalate to the point where they lead to arrests and a feature on Good Morning America.
Mitchell Igelko, a Miami man accused of constantly harassing his neighbors in southwest Miami-Dade, killing some of their lawns, throwing eggs at their houses, and allegedly firebombing a boat, accepted a plea deal today that will keep him out of jail, but punish him with five years probation.
The incident dates back to 2008. Igelko, who owns a landscaping company, got upset when one neighbor, Bob DerHagopian, hired another company to do some lawn work. Soon after, DerHagopian's home started being vandalized, and he discovered other neighbors had faced similar problems. The neighbors decided to ban together and buy a video surveillance system.
Incidents, including nails and eggs being thrown at homes, flammable liquid being poured on cars, and a boat catching fire, were common in the neighborhood.
The cameras soon caught Igelko as the culprit. Neighbors had suspected him because it seemed his home was the only not being targeted.
WSVN News TV producer Robin Cross apparently got really pissed off at her neighbor during a parking dispute earlier this week. In a video first obtained by local gossip blogger Jose Lambiet, Cross, 49, screams the N-word at her neighbor Robert Fenton because his son is in an interracial relationship. Cross yells that he "dates a fucking nigger."
In the clip, which the Fenton family also sent to New Times, Cross hurls the insults while Fenton quietly takes the abuse. He calmly says Cross' car is blocking his driveway, which seems like a valid concern. Cross then loses her mind.
"You cannot block my driveway," Fenton states.
"You cannot park in the street either!" Cross shouts in return. "His car got hit, and the cop told us that every car on this fucking street could get fucking ticketed. Yes, I used the word 'fucking,' if you haven't heard it before — except for your fucking son, who dates a fucking nigger!"
She then seemed pleased with herself. "Hmm, I said it out loud," she added. "Finally."
Dyma Loving and her friend Adrianna Green had just left home in South Miami-Dade when a neighbor began shouting insults at them. Loving, who is 26 years old, and Green, age 22, said they planned to run errands when Green's 50-year-old neighbor called the women "whores."
Loving and Green say they ignored the insult at first. But then, when the abuse continued, Green threw a plant into the yard of the neighbor, identified in police reports as Frank Tumm. That's when, Loving says, Tumm, who is white, pulled out a shotgun and said he would "shoot my burnt black-ass face off my neck."
Fearing for their lives, the women fled. They called 911 as soon as they reached a safe place.
At least five Miami-Dade Police officers responded to the call around 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 5, at SW 113th Place and SW 201st Street. The first responding officers spoke with Loving and Green and then spoke with the neighbor.
Then Officer Alejandro Giraldo pulled up. "He started interrogating us like we were the suspects," Loving says.
Jose Rey, the father of two shot on Father's Day after getting into an argument over his dog trying to relieve itself on a neighbor's lawn, has died as a result of his injuries. The charges against Omar Rodriguez, currently attempted murder, are expected to be increased as a result.
The strange incident occurred June 21 in Kendall. Rey, 52, was out walking his dog when its attempt to poop caught the ire of a neighbor's visiting father, 66-year-old Omar Rodriguez. After Rodriguez and Rey got into an argument, Rodriguez retrieved a pistol from his car's glove compartment and shot Rodriguez three times. When Rey's wife tried to help her husband, Rodriguez allegedly told her to stay away and threatened to shoot her too.
Rodriguez says he shot Rey in self-defense, claiming he saw a shiny object in Rey's hand. Police found a knife near the scene but have not determined whose it was.
Rey was transported to Kendall Regional Medical Center, where he remained in critical condition until last night, when he passed away, according to NBC Miami.
Over the weekend, the Miami Herald documented the strange history of Rodriguez, who has tormented neighbors in three Miami-Dade neighborhoods since the 1990s. One hundred forty complaints have been filed against Rodriguez since 2008 alone, though police determined his behavior remained ever so slightly on the right side of the law in those cases. However, he racked up four previous arrests in Florida since the '70s and once was put on probation on charges of stalking a former lawyer.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.