Florida man took his son on paintball ‘drive-by’, police said. The boy, 10, ended up shot with a real gun

According to police, after he was struck with a bullet, the 10-year-old fell from the van and was run over as the vehicle continued to move — he was taken to the hospital but his condition remains unknown

Katie Shepherd
Wednesday 02 June 2021 14:06 BST
Witnesses said the man and his son were wearing ski masks and hoodies as paintballs peppered a crowd of people, including children, at a home in Opa-locka, Florida
Witnesses said the man and his son were wearing ski masks and hoodies as paintballs peppered a crowd of people, including children, at a home in Opa-locka, Florida (Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

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As Michael Williams drove past a gathering in the yard of an Opa-locka, Florida, home on Sunday night, police said, his 10-year-old son fired a barrage of paintballs into the crowd from inside his father’s van.

It was the 10-year-old’s idea, police later said: He’d asked his dad if he would take him on a “drive-by shooting” with his paintball gun, and Mr Williams, 26, allegedly said yes.

But as the paintballs peppered the crowd, at least one of the victims thought the gunshots were real. So the man pulled out his own gun and fired a single bullet at the van — wounding the young boy and sending him to the hospital.

Opa-locka police later arrested Mr Williams on a charge of child neglect with great bodily harm, the Miami Herald reported. In a police report, detectives alleged that the father “acted recklessly by agreeing to conduct a drive-by paintball shooting,” the newspaper reported.

The incident capped a bloody outburst of gun violence in Miami that killed three and injured more than 30 people over Memorial Day weekend, including one high-profile attack that allegedly involved a protege of Grammy-nominated rapper DaBaby. The surge of violence led local officials this weekend to call for swift action to combat gun violence by investing $90mn (£64mn) over 19 years in mentorships and job training for at-risk teenagers.

“We must get these killers off the streets, we can only do it with your help,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a Monday news conference addressing the shootings. “We must break this cycle of violence.”

According to police, Mr Williams’s son approached him over the weekend and asked if his father would take him to do a drive-by shooting with a paintball gun in Opa-locka, a city in Miami-Dade County that has been so beset with gun violence that a resident recently called it “the devil’s dungeon.”

Mr Williams allegedly agreed and drove the boy to a home in the small city where a group of children had gathered on the front lawn.

The boy’s father told WSVN that his son had been engaged in a paintball battle with several other children before the Sunday evening shooting. A witness in the neighbourhood also told the station that Mr Williams and his son had been wearing “ski masks and hoodies” during the attack, which Williams denied.

When the boy began firing paintballs, police said a resident named Gregory Barns believed that “he and his family were under attack,” the Herald reported. Mr Barns quickly fired one shot at Mr Williams’s van.

After being struck with the bullet, police said, the 10-year-old fell out of the van and was run over as the vehicle continued to move. Mr Williams then scooped the boy back into the van and drove home, where the boy’s mother called 911, according to a police report.

The father told WSVN a different story. He said the boy had already exited the car when the shooting happened.

The boy was then taken to a hospital for treatment, though police have not released any further information about his condition. It’s not clear if Mr Williams has an attorney or when he is due in court.

The Washington Post

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