A fatal shooting took place at a Walmart close to the Florida Keys entrance, leaving one man dead and an uninvolved shopper injured on Wednesday afternoon. This incident resulted from a dispute that escalated, leading to a flurry of bullets. The deceased has been identified as 23-year-old Nathaniel Baez, who resided in Homestead according to one record. The turmoil resulted in minor injuries for several others.
Detective Alvaro Zabaleta, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade police, reported that the shooting originated from an altercation between two trios at the Florida City Walmart, situated at 33501 S. Dixie Highway. An individual was apprehended with authorities on the search for five additional suspects.
Around 3 p.m., the verbal disagreement escalated into a physical altercation. One of the men proceeded to draw a firearm and commence firing. A bullet struck Baez, from the opposing group, and an unrelated shopper. The second victim was shot in the foot. Both men were transported to Jackson South Medical Center, where Baez succumbed to his injuries.
Zabaleta debunked initial claims that classified the incident as an active shooter situation, stating, “This was not an active shooter. It was an isolated incident between two groups.”
The aftermath of the incident drew a large law enforcement presence — including officers from Miami-Dade, Homestead, Florida City, the FBI, and the MDPD’s Priority Response team. One man involved in the brawl was arrested. It remains uncertain if he was the perpetrator, pending a review of the security footage, Zabaleta said. The rest of the individuals involved managed to escape and are still at large. There were more victims of the disorder, including a woman who fell and sustained a head injury. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue treated five other individuals on-site for minor injuries, and another woman received treatment for heat exhaustion.
Considering the volume of shoppers present during the incident and an innocent bystander among the wounded, Zabaleta pointed out the situation could have been even more catastrophic.
The Florida City Walmart is more than just a supermarket for local residents. It serves as a convenient stop for travelers and tourists headed to the Florida Keys, as well as locals from the Keys, due to its position as the southernmost Walmart in the United States. Its footfall tends to be higher than other Walmart stores in southern Miami-Dade, even on a weekday afternoon.
Witnesses, residents, and employees observed the scene as police and paramedics worked. A woman, who wished to remain anonymous, reported that she was in the store when she heard the shots and immediately fled. Two 15-year-old friends, who had come to look at video games, found their plans derailed as they entered the store amidst the chaos. As quoted, one of the boys said, “They started shooting, and we saw the blood and we started running.” An Instagram video captured the panic inside the Walmart just after the shooting, showing a motionless individual on the floor, receiving help from bystanders. The caption of the video mentioned that an argument preceded the gunshots.