By David Ovalle
From Miami Herald
Davonta Barnes, 22, of Miami Gardens, was booked into a Miami-Dade jail Thursday night on three counts of first-degree murder and 20 counts of attempted murder, records show. He is being held without bond.
His was the first arrest made so far for the May 30 shooting at the El Mula banquet hall that shocked South Florida.
That early morning, a crowd had gathered for a rap show at El Mula, 7630 NW 186th St., when gunmen opened fire. Surveillance video showed the crowd scattering in panic as people crumpled to the ground wounded, with puffs of dust exploding in the air from bullets hitting the walls outside the venue.
Killed in the shooting were Desmond Owens and Clayton Dillard III, both 26, and Shankquia Lechelle Peterson, 32.
Miami-Dade police later said at least three gunmen in ski masks and hoodies had gotten out of a stolen white Nissan Pathfinder and opened fire on the crowd. They rushed back to the SUV and drove off as others in the parking lot returned fire.
The stolen SUV was later found in a canal in the area of Northwest 154th Street and Second Avenue.
Investigators said during a news conference that the targeted attack was connected to an ongoing rivalry between two groups.
Police believe Barnes acted as a suspected lookout for the men who opened fire on the crowd.
According to a police arrest report, Barnes was picked up for questioning Thursday and confessed he was with the attackers before the shooting. “He saw at least one of the subjects was armed with a firearm,” according to an arrest report.
Police said Barnes confessed he was part of a group that was looking to kill a specific man who was going to be at the show. Barnes admitted “he drove to the location of the shooting, in his mother’s Nissan Altima, acted as a lookout just before the shooting, and reported back to the other subjects whether [the intended target] was present at the location,” the report said.
Barnes was not accused of firing any weapons.
The mass shooting at El Mula was among a slew of high-profile shootings in public spaces in May and June.
Among them were a wild car chase-and-shooting near a Miami casino, a mass shooting in Wynwood that left one dead and six wounded, the murder of the son of a former state senator, and a shooting outside a swank South Beach restaurant that ended in one man paralyzed and a rapper behind bars.
The spate of violence spurred Miami-Dade and other police departments to launch “Operation Summer Heat,” which was described as a crackdown on violent criminals and guns.
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