On the final day of school, before classes shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, two African-American children were walking to campus when they walked past a North Miami-Dade house and touched the white iron fence.
The Hispanic homeowner, police say, rushed out, and barked at them to not touch his property. He also called them “dirty” and used the n-word.
And that wasn’t all. According to Miami-Dade police, 31-year-old Gabriel Gomez got in his truck and drove after the terrified children, ages 9 and 11. He pointed an orange-and-black handgun at them through the window.
“If I ever see you on this block or by my house again, I’ll kill you and nobody’s gonna be able to find you,” Gomez said, according to an arrest report.
Miami-Dade police later raided his house on 12200 block of Northwest 19th Avenue and found an arsenal of weapons, including a custom-made .50-caliber rifle with an orange tip.
Gomez has now been charged with aggravated assault with a firearm for the March 13 incident. He’s been ordered to house arrest, but must first post a $100,000 bond. Court records show his attorneys had a court hearing Friday to discuss modifying his bond; courts have largely been shut down because of the pandemic that has ground South Florida to a halt and killed thousands around the world.
Gomez would face a “hate-crime” enhancement to his charge, which would make a possible sentence stiffer.
Last year, a Miami man named Mark Bartlett was charged with aggravated assault with prejudice after he pointed a gun at a group of black teenagers before hurling racial slurs at them. Bartlett has pleaded not guilty and he’s awaiting trial.
What drove Gomez to commit the alleged attack is unknown. The incident happened early Friday morning, as much of South Florida governments were ordering unprecedented shutdowns and restrictions to avoid spreading the highly contagious illness.
Later that day on March 13, Miami-Dade and Broward schools announced they would be closing their campuses, and moving to online learning.
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