HomeTravelHow spring break shootings pushed Miami Beach into curfew
How spring break shootings pushed Miami Beach into curfew
March 22, 2022
Things have gone way south in South Beach.
This year’s spring breakers are out with a post-COVID vengeance, and they have turned the city of Miami Beach into a nightmare with shootings, street brawls, crowds stampedes and public indecency, officials and locals say.
“It’s an incredible strain, we had 371 police working over the weekend and that’s an enormous amount for what is essentially a very small area,” Gelber told The Post.
He noted that, in the face of huge, violent crowds, his officers can only do so much. “Most of these shootings occurred right in front of them. So it was just seconds before a policeman was there. The idea that you can’t deter this behavior with police presence really is a great concern.”
Gelber — who said that the vicious crime spike has been caused almost entirely by the visitors — was also quick to note that his police force is seeing more and more armed people roaming the streets.
“The number of weapons we have seized has been higher than typically. We’ve seized about 100 weapons in the last month and some of them were pretty serious automatic weapons and obviously many more people had guns than the ones we seized.”
“Most of the people with guns aren’t coming in on planes, they are probably regional or came via a car,” the mayor added. “The curfew, it manages risk because we just can’t eliminate it.”
As awful as this year has been, the mayor admitted that this is an ongoing problem.
“Last year was pretty bad, we’ve had moments like this before which are challenging for both our residents and our visitors. Having five people shot in two nights, it’s hard to compete with that.”
Since those eye-opening shootings, local businessmen like Justone Oelschlaeger have seen the exasperated officers out in fleet-loads.
“Imagine walking down Ocean Drive and seeing 16 cop cars, four wheelers and undercover cops walking around,” Oelschlaeger, who operates the restaurant Big Pink, told The Post. He added that, beyond the armed crime, “people are fighting over stupid stuff” as far as the eye can see.
Shikyra Henry, 23, a host at the nearby Yard House chain bar and eatery, described witnessing similar chaos. “[It’s] like a rave that never stops from morning to night,” she said, recalling seeing a fight break out in broad daylight outside of Big Pink recently.
“They were beating each other up. I saw two guys walking up to each other — their group of friends was holding them back. They just started fighting,” Henry said. “It was 3 p.m. in the afternoon. I heard threats about a weapon.”
One club promoter from North Miami Beach caught a vicious, multi-person brawl — one of three recent fights he’s seen this spring break — on video last Thursday.
“Someone was playing music and one of the guys, he was a little drunk, probably too drunk, he was over excited,” party promoter Kevin Justinien, 26, told The Post. “He bumped into one guy and that led to another thing and then boom the fight just started.”
Another messy brawl in the area involved a woman who lost her top while being being pummelled with punches as multiple other women threw haymakers at one another. It was posted to Twitter.
Justinien cautioned that beyond nasty fights and guns, brutal stampedes — which often start as tasteless pranks — are also terrorizing locals.
“One guy will start running and be like ‘Oh, they’re fighting,’ or ‘He’s got a gun!’ and then everybody starts running,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of people get hurt from it, imagine 10,000 people are just running. And then you have those outside restaurant stands that people are eating at and they see people running and just get knocked over.”
Gelber’s curfew will hopefully quell the insanity — at least in his neck of the woods.
“From what I hear a lot of the kids are going [an hour north] to Wilton Manors because they don’t have a curfew to stay out until 5 a.m. That’s where everyone is going this weekend,” Oelschlaeger said, adding that Fort Lauderdale is another area anticipating an influx.
For the mayor and his city’s locals, it’s good riddance.
“Frankly, we don’t really want spring break,” he said. “I think we’ve made that very clear. We don’t advertise for it like other places have, we don’t recruit it.”