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Miami Beach commissioners approve midnight spring break curfew after 2 shootings leave 5 injured

By Jamiel Lynch, Susannah Cullinane and Amir Vera, CNN

The City of Miami Beach commission voted unanimously during a Tuesday emergency meeting to impose a curfew during Spring Break festivities this weekend.

The curfew will start at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday and expire Monday morning at 6 a.m., starting at midnight each night. The boundaries of the midnight curfew are 23rd Street to the north, South Point Park to the south, the ocean to the east and the bay to the west, City Manager Alina Hudak told commissioners.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and Hudak announced the curfew during a Monday news conference, but needed the commission’s approval to go beyond 72 hours.

The curfew and emergency order come after five people were injured in two shootings on Miami Beach’s iconic Ocean Drive over the weekend.

During the meeting, Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements voiced concern over the incidents.

“I’m at my wit’s end trying to figure out how to be able to deal with this crowd with the numbers that are here and with what we are encountering during the policing of this particular event,” he said.

Clements said in a shooting on Saturday night where three people were injured, there were 10 police officers within 10-15 feet of the shooting.

“We saw what the effects were with someone who walked into the crowd with a firearm and randomly shot at people,” Clements said. “We are so lucky there wasn’t a more significant loss of life associated with these events because they were random. The people that were injured as a result of this had nothing to do with any kind of confrontation at all but basically were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Gelber noted 371 officers were tasked with patrolling the crowds over the weekend.

Since the Spring Break season began in February, nine officers have been injured in some capacity, Clements said.

Four of those injuries happened over the weekend, the Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police said in a Twitter post Sunday.

“Officers are EXHAUSTED. The party needs to end. City officials must take immediate and firm action to ensure the safety of officers and residents,” the tweet said.

Commissioner David Richardson recommended the city also shut down liquor sales for off-site consumption at an earlier time. The emergency order allows the city manager to do this at the office’s discretion.

The City of Miami Beach on Wednesday said “the sale or distribution of any alcoholic beverage(s) for off-premises consumption, with or without payment,” will be prohibited in the area under curfew after 6 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Gelber said the commission will see how this weekend goes and could meet again next week to do another curfew for the final weekend of Spring Break.

A Miami Beach Live concert set for Saturday evening will be rescheduled, Hudak said.

CNN has reached out to Miami Beach Live and the Clevelander for comment. The Clevelander is a bar that successfully sued the city last year over an injunction that halted alcohol sales at 2 a.m.

Miami Beach also introduced a curfew last year after officials said crowds of spring breakers brought chaos to the city.

Shootings leave 5 injured

The announcement of the curfew came hours after two people were injured in a shooting in Miami Beach early Monday.

Officers were patrolling the 700 block of Ocean Drive around 1 a.m. when they heard gunfire and located two women who had been injured, police said in a press release. Both were taken to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

Officers detained two people at the scene and recovered firearms. One of those people has since been released and officers are still searching for the primary shooting suspect, the release said.

The incident followed another shooting on Ocean Drive early Sunday morning that left three people injured, according to police.

“On Sunday at 12:15 a.m., officers responded to a shooting along the 800 block of Ocean Drive,” Miami Beach Police Department spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez said.

Two people were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and investigators later learned a third person arrived at a hospital with a gunshot wound, also non-life-threatening, Rodriguez said.

“Detectives are speaking with several individuals to determine what transpired in the moments leading up to the shooting,” he added.

Mitch Novick, who owns the Sherbrooke Hotel in South Beach, shot footage of the Miami Beach crowd reacting to the gunfire.

In the video, gunshots can be heard as people run for safety while a large number of police officers rush towards the shooting. Novick sheltered behind a white vehicle and kept filming.

“You could see many officers heroically running towards the what was the sound of the gunfire,” Novick told CNN. “And then they came back and surrounded, I don’t know if it was a person or a vehicle, but you can see their guns drawn.”

Novick also shared security footage from his hotel in which people can be heard screaming amidst the sound of gunfire.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the Miami Beach city manager. It is Alina Hudak.

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