Miami Beach Officers Shoot Armed Man In Hotel Lobby During Spring Break Chaos
Miami Beach, FL – An armed suspect was shot by police during a scuffle inside a hotel lobby on Saturday night.
The incident began at approximately 8:30 p.m., when a bartender at the Barbizon Hotel on Ocean Drive spotted a man with a gun tucked into his waistband, the Miami Herald reported.
The bartender alerted a manager, who then ran outside and flagged down Miami Beach police.
The officers entered the hotel and immediately confronted the armed man in the lobby, according to the Miami Herald.
The suspect, later identified as 22-year-old Jonathan Hall, refused to comply with the officers’ orders and made an “overt act” just before three officers opened fire, Miami Beach Police Union President Kevin Millan told the paper.
Hall was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition.
No officers or bystanders were injured during the altercation.
Police recovered Hall’s gun at the scene.
“The bottom line is that if you come out here and you have a gun and you don’t comply with officers’ commands, they are going to be forced to take action to safeguard themselves and the public,” Millan told the Miami Herald.
Hotel patron Michael Swanberg said he was watching a movie in his room when the gunfire erupted.
He spotted citizens at a nearby restaurant flipping over tables and running for cover as the incident unfolded.
“Dozens of cops and a SWAT team came in instantly,” Swanberg told the Miami Herald.
The crowds that converge on Miami Beach during spring break have contributed to an even busier workload for law enforcement officers in recent days as the threat of the coronavirus outbreak spread, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told the paper.
“Now that there’s no school and every college has made this decision, we’re now in a position that frankly is going to be very challenging,” Gelber said. “Unfortunately, they are a group that doesn’t feel as threatened [by coronavirus] as our seniors, who are listening to our directions conscientiously.”
The city shut down a popular section of South Beach and prohibited large gatherings in an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Many people expressed frustration that their recreation time has been curtailed, WSVN reported.
“How are you going to make us leave at 5 o’clock, you know what I mean? The beach is still light out,” a man holding a drink in a pineapple asked the news outlet. “I’ve got a pineapple with me. I’m just trying to enjoy myself. I’m not going to argue the law, but I just don’t understand it.”
A woman said that even though large beach gatherings are now banned, people have just moved to other areas to congregate instead.
“The spread is still inevitable,” she told WSVN.
Gelber said that “spring break is over” for 2020, according to the news outlet.
“We’re hoping that people go to their rooms and go home,” the mayor told the Miami Herald. “We don’t want this crowd here for spring break. We don’t want them.”