Miami/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 20, 2024
Fort Pierce Reels from Unconnected Shootings Leaving 3 Dead, 1 Critically WoundedSource: Google Street View

Fort Pierce, FL—A series of shootings on Saturday that left three dead and one critically injured has plunged the local community into turmoil. Major Michael Santiago of the Fort Pierce Police described the situation as "a very dynamic case" that is complex and still unfolding, sources report. Santiago told WFLX, "Right now, there is no sense to this. We have no motive. We don't understand it."

According to reports, the incident began late Saturday morning with police responding to "multiple 911 calls." Officers found a man with a gunshot wound on the 1400 block of 23rd Street, and almost simultaneously, a vehicle was reported stolen on the 2100 block of Avenue N. One of the shootings involved Bernard Smith, 28, who was fatally shot by police after an exchange of gunfire. Investigators are actively trying to piece together if this and other incidents are connected, as more victims were discovered within a four-block radius, WFLX details.

One of the fatalities was identified by family as Roosevelt "Kent" Benjamin, a long-time U.S. Postal Service worker, remembered by his daughter as a dedicated "girl dad." He was found dead in his home after a man, later identified as Smith, was captured on Ring doorbell video at his front door. Rosenwald Sutton of WPTV notes the assailant had a "violent history" with previous convictions, including a robbery and a felony gun charge. WPTV adds that Smith had only been out of prison since March, serving less than a year for the gun charge despite a three-year sentence.

The surviving shooting victim is in serious condition but unable to speak to officers to help further the case. Santiago disclosed that three officers are currently placed on administrative leave following the incident. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the officer-involved shooting while Fort Pierce Police handle the other incidents. Santiago stressed that they are "exploring every single avenue in order to identify what actually transpired on Saturday," with community cooperation described as "very helpful," according to WPTV.

The city of Fort Pierce expressed its grief over the events in a statement, saying, "We are deeply saddened by the tragic shooting that took place this past weekend, resulting in the loss of several precious lives," and calling for the community to "come together as a community, offering support and compassion to one another," reports WPTV.

Miami-Crime & Emergencies