12 shot as automatic weapons fired at Miami street party

MIAMI — Twelve people were shot shortly after midnight Monday when gunfire erupted at a birthday party in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami.

Several people are now in the hospital, some barely clinging to life, as Miami police search for three shooters responsible for the mayhem that occurred at 12:45 a.m. outside a home in the 500 block of Northwest Fifth Street.

Some at the block party were gunned down as they ran. Others were shot as they sipped their drinks and listened to rap music. Most were teenagers.

Four people were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center in critical condition and six others were taken to Jackson, according to Miami Fire Rescue spokesman Ignatius Carroll. Two people remained in critical condition Monday morning, police reported.

Kedricka Hughes, a 16-year-old who attended the party, said there was a peaceful atmosphere all evening. More than 200 people were at the block party, put together for Lawrence Smith's 20th birthday, according to several friends. He had advertised it on MySpace and had even hired a disc jockey.

Miami police officers had stopped by the house early in the evening, responding to a ''loud music'' complaint, and everything seemed calm.

But as the night progressed, things got out of hand.

A 19-year-old woman, who withheld her name out of fear, said she saw a big boy in a white T-shirt and jeans light a TNT bomb. Another man, maybe in his 20s, was holding an assault rifle, she said.

Two sisters, who also wished to remain anonymous, said that more than a dozen teenage boys from two different gangs convened near the disc jockey just before 1 a.m. They were huddled around an AK-47 that was leaning against the home's wall, the barrel pointing up.

When one sister saw that, she slowly walked away from the home.

''Everything was fine,'' Hughes said. "And then they just started shooting.''

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