A teenage witness says a group of five to six masked males pulled handguns on him and a friend early Monday, in what police say was a brazen armed robbery on a quiet residential street. No one was harmed, but the incident left families shaken and island police in an intense felony investigation.
Authorities said they have several leads, but are also asking for the public’s help. The assailants wore hoodies and police have not released a description.
According to one of the boys, a 15-year-old, a group of several males in a medium-sized grey sedan pulled up while he and a friend were walking to the beach. They first asked if the boys had any marijuana, family members said. The alleged assailants, all holding guns, then exited the car, and made the boys empty their pockets. The subjects made off with smartphones and a portable speaker before leaving the island.
Police details of the investigation are sketchy. Officials say it took place at about 12:45 a.m. on East Enid Drive.
“I’m still rattled,” the boy said. “It’s a rough experience. ” He declined to give his name. He said one of the males pointed a gun at his stomach, while another gun was pointed at his friend’s head.
“They were enjoying themselves,” he said, adding his attackers were laughing as they held him and his friend at gunpoint. He said the terrifying event lasted about ten minutes.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
He said the males made him and his friend enter their passwords into their smartphones so the devices could be unlocked and presumably wiped.
“They knew what they were doing,” he said.
Vanessa Sanz de Acedo, the mother of one of the boys, said she was able to track the stolen smartphone until about 1:20 in the morning, when it ceased updating its location somewhere in Coconut Grove.
“It’s just very alarming. I’ve been in Key Biscayne for 20 years. For our sons to be held at gunpoint out on the street is like the worst nightmare you can imagine,” she said. “It’s a miracle they are both perfectly fine.”
Key Biscayne Deputy Chief Jason Younes said officers have spent hours going over the boy’s accounts, canvassing witnesses and looking for video and other information, but he said the department was not able to elaborate on a description, saying the subjects took pains to conceal their identities.
He said the department will implement a response plan and that residents will notice a police response tonight, but declined to share details. He could not comment on reports that persons in a similar vehicle may have been driving on the island, filming various homes. But he said any suspicious behavior should be shared with police.
Sanz de Acedo said she’d like to see much better street lighting on her street as well as better video monitoring of the community. The Village does have a license plate reader near the entrance, but no information was immediately available about how any data may have been captured for Monday’s incident.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.