Those aren't statistics you'll hear often on the news, though, in part because local law enforcement agencies don't break down shootings by weapon type and in part because — like Evans — a majority of the victims are black with a criminal record. (New Times compiled these numbers through news clips and Miami-Dade Police Department releases.)

"On my block alone, there have been six shootings in the past year," says Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, who lives in Liberty City. "One involved an assault weapon."

Spence-Jones, her husband, and their two little boys were on their way to a Sunday church service last year when they saw a car crash into a light post near the corner of NW 55th Street and Eighth Avenue. "It had been shot up 17 times," she says. "Two young men stumbled out of the car, bleeding everywhere. They died that day."

Suleiman Yousef purchased his first AR-15-style rifle in 2006, two years after the federal assault rifle ban expired.
Giulio Sciorio
Suleiman Yousef purchased his first AR-15-style rifle in 2006, two years after the federal assault rifle ban expired.
Jorge Corbato has been making rifles in Miami for almost a decade.
Francisco Alvarado
Jorge Corbato has been making rifles in Miami for almost a decade.

The double homicide was never reported on the news. Evans was no exception to that tired mainstream-media rule. His story represents both sides of the violent ties between poor black neighborhoods and assault rifle crimes.

Born on May 2, 1991, Evans grew up looking after his three younger brothers and a younger sister in Brownsville, a neighborhood adjacent to Liberty City. His mom says she tried to keep her kids out of trouble while holding down two jobs. "They had curfews and chores around the house," the 41-year-old Denny's hostess says. "I did my best to make sure they didn't get caught up in that street life."

As a boy, Evans played running back for the Overtown Rattlers Optimist Club and made the honor roll at Horace Mann Middle School. But during his senior year at Miami Edison High, he began to drift. On January 26, 2009, he was arrested for stealing a car and later served 30 days in jail. That July, he was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Four months later, a felony grand theft bust followed. He pleaded guilty and served a 60-day stint.

Then, on December 17, 2010, Evans and three friends were driving around the parking lot of the Falls shopping center in Palmetto Bay when Miami-Dade Police officers approached. Evans tried to run away, and later admitted he "got nervous and hid his firearm in a big condom box in the back seat," according to a police report. Officers recovered a silver-and-black revolver and charged him with illegally carrying a concealed firearm. Prosecutors didn't pursue the charges.

In early 2011, his mom convinced him to move with her out of Brownsville and into a three-bedroom house in a quiet residential area of Miami Gardens. The change of scenery helped.

"In Liberty City, there was just too much going on," she says. "There was a shooting every day."

The night he was shot, Evans had walked to the bus stop to wait for his girlfriend, who was on her way home from work. His assailant caught him completely by surprise.

Miraculously, Evans survived. The bullets didn't hit an artery. After four days, he was released from Jackson. While he was recuperating, he made a startling revelation. Hours before he was shot, his assailant confronted him outside a nearby convenience store and flashed the AK-47. Evans also told his mom that his brother Keonte had an ongoing fight with the shooter's friends.

She relayed the information to Miami Gardens Det. Joseph Zellner, but police couldn't track down Evans' attacker without his name. The break came November 4, 2011, when Evans read a front-page story in the Miami Times about a 20-year-old who had been charged in a shooting at Bunche Park. Evans recognized the shooter. When he met with Zellner, he held up a copy and said, "This is the guy who shot me."

In addition to the four attempted murder charges for the Bunche Park shooting, Tyrone Vincent Bivins was also charged with the attempted murder of Evans. It's not clear where Bivins got his rifle, but because he is a convicted felon, he couldn't have purchased it legally.

Like thousands of other criminals, he more than likely circumvented Florida's lax gun laws. Many use straw buyers. "They have their girlfriends who don't have criminal records going to the gun shows and pawn shops," Spence-Jones says.

A veteran Miami homicide detective, who asked not to be identified because he's not authorized to comment on the story, confirmed Spence-Jones' claim.

"Any young lady who is at least 18 can walk into a gun show and buy whatever AR-15 or AK-47 her boyfriend wants," he says. "Criminals are also getting rifles by committing burglaries. That is the MO for a lot of the gangs in the city."

Last November, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics issued a report declaring that 1.4 million firearms were stolen in burglaries between 2005 and 2010. At least 80 percent of those weapons have not been recovered.

While Bivins sat in county lockup, Evans recovered from his leg wounds. But he couldn't escape his fate.

On November 12, seven months after his 21st birthday, Evans, his 18-year-old brother Quavon, and their 18-year-old friend Torrey Amica were driving on NW 43rd Street near 11th Avenue just before midnight. A gray sedan pulled up next to them, and without warning, someone inside sprayed all three young men with a high-powered rifle.

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My Voice Nation Help

Nice biased hit piece. While you mention percentages of homicides committed with guns locally, rather than compare that to national statistics to see if that's unusual (i.e., rather than act with some journalistic integrity) you instead simply imply, without presenting any evidence, that this is unusually high and is so due to Florida's gun laws. Oddly enough though, when one actually does the journalistically responsible thing and looks at national figures and those from other states (like Illinois, with some of the strictest gun laws, and highest gun crime rates), South Florida, if anything, has a LOWER ratio of gun deaths to total homicides.

And despite your blatant attempt to tie all this to so-called "assault weapons", you never mention the fact that virtually none of these deaths ever involve such firearms. However, just as everywhere else in the US, such firearms are used in fewer than 1/2 of 1% of homicides (and virtually never in suicides). In fact, the only specific study done in the state on the subject, carried out by the city of Miami, one of the most anti-gun city governments in the state, found that so-called "assault weapons" are the LEAST often used type of gun in any form of crime within the city, despite the fact that, as you point out, they are one of the most commonly owned.

But hey, what are facts and verifiable statistics compared to bigotry and unsupported innuendo, right?


Spence-Jones  said 2 words..   No Snitching! 

icculus17 topcommenter

jobs? sounds like a one-man operation


My question is, which of the proposed laws, will stop a sandy hook, or denver type attack?   (today). or even the AZ Gifford's attack?   

background checks make sense.  but limiting the number of bullets?  

would stiffer sentences have the same effect?  -felons caught with guns get 20-30 years.


Ruger Mini-14 sniper rifle.  - that is an oxymoron.  mini14's are not that accurate.