Hotel Attacks

7 May 2017, Miami Beach, Florida, USA

The Miami Herald reports that on 7 May at around 8:49 p.m., a gunman opened fire on a couple in the valet parking area of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel. The presumed weapon was a handgun. Local 10 ABC News Miami reports that witnesses in the hotel say they heard five to seven shots. The male victim was hit multiple times, the female only once. Despite being wounded, both victims managed to retreat from the assailant and into the hotel where staff called the police and an ambulance. The victims were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center where they were last reported in stable condition.

The Fontainebleau is an opulent hotel described as sitting in the heart of “Millionaires’ Row” in Miami Beach. Scenes from several movies have been filmed there, including Goldfinger, Scarface, and The Bodyguard. It is also a popular spot with movie stars and recording artists.

Police have not revealed if the victims were in a vehicle or standing in the valet area when shot. Some witnesses say the shooting seems have been preceded by an argument between the male victim and the gunman.

The Miami Herald reports that a taxi driver saw two possible assailants flee the scene and try to hail a taxi as they made their getaway. Failing that, they tried to carjack an occupied taxi. Failing that, they fled on foot. Police described at least one of the perpetrators as a black male.

The attack happened as the hotel’s nightclub, Club Liv, was beginning an after party connected to the Rolling Loud rap festival held across the bay in Miami. The club canceled the event in the wake of the shooting.

Hotel security and staff told guests to stay in their rooms as the attack unfolded. Police sealed off the area around the hotel, blocked traffic, and used a helicopter and K-9s to hunt for the suspect/suspects. Police also conferred with hotel security to ascertain the details of the attack and to assure guest and public safety.

Valet parking was temporarily closed, and hotel guests were unable to retrieve their cars until police had completed their investigation.

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach released the following statement regarding the shooting:

“The hotel’s security and management team responded immediately and is assisting the Miami Beach Police during the ongoing investigation. Our top priority is the safety and security of our guests and team members. The hotel is open and continues to operate as usual.”

This is not the first time the Fontainebleau has experienced criminal disturbances and/or violence.

At around 1:00 pm on 23 March 2017, a career criminal and car thief fleeing the police ran into the Fontainebleau attempting to evade capture. Police apprehended him in the back of the hotel, says the Miami Beach Patch. The hotel had to go on lockdown until he was captured.

Local 10 ABC News Miami reports that on 16 September 2016, a gunman in a gray Ford Mustang convertible fired multiple shots into a white Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV parked in the Fontainebleau’s parking garage. No one was in the vehicle at the time. The target vehicle belonged to the entourage of a famous rap star, The Game. The Game, whose vehicle was a white Range Rover, was in South Florida at the time of the shooting.

This car shooting might have been related to The Game threatening to physically assault a rival rapper, Meek Mill, during the former’s show the night before. The Game also called Meek Mill a “snitch,” a label that can bring serious repercussions, even death, in the drug trafficking community. It should also be noted that the two entertainers had a long running dispute related to a robbery harking back to June 2016.

There are four takeaways here. First, the shooting, based on the information available, appears to be amateurish because of, 1) the apparent exchange of harsh words that preceded the attack, 2) the described clumsy egress of the shooters, and 3) the fact that the victims survived (so far) despite the shooter’s close range and multiple shots fired. Professionals typically attack with stealth, achieve superior shot placement at close range, usually secure a kill, and egress efficiently. Muir Analytics has reported on professional hits at hotels before – see an example from Mexico here.

Second, based on the information available, the hotel appears to have acted efficiently to secure its guests, staff, and property. Putting the hotel on lockdown, securing the valet area for the police forensics team, canceling the after-festival party, and closely cooperating with the police indicate high professionalism. Issuing a low-key but definitive statement about the shooting also helped the hotel stay in front of potentially negative PR and hurtful/viral social media.

Third, despite the efficient reaction to the shooting, the Fontainebleau should have had extra security during the Club Liv event based on the previous shooting in September and the fact that violence on occasion follows some – not all, but some – rap artists, especially those making violent threats against each other. (Violence has also followed rock artists and other entertainment sectors.) While multitudes of rap concerts occur peacefully, conflict-related happenings sometimes do not. The infamous Biggie Smalls (Christopher George Latore Wallace) and Tupac Shakur (Lesane Parish Crooks) dispute is a classic example that involved Crips gang members, several assaults, and at least two murders. Because of this and multiple similar scenarios (see point four below,) increased security before, during, and after the Club Liv event was warranted.

Fourth, not being proactive regarding increased security exposed the Fontainebleau to potential liabilities. Reasonable foreseeability is a weak excuse for not increasing security. Totality of circumstances dictated a more preventative approach. Supporting factors here include, but are not limited to, the Fontainebleau’s September 2016 rapper-related parking garage shooting, plus a distinct record of 10 popular rap artists murdered since 2010:

  • Magnolia Shorty
  • Bad News Brown
  • Killa Keise
  • Lil Phat
  • Pavlos Fyssas
  • Doe B
  • The Jacka
  • Flabba
  • Chinx
  • Bankroll Fresh

The Jacka, Flabba, and Chinx were killed in 2015, Bankroll Fresh in 2016, so these type murders were not an old phenomenon.

Modern hotel security demands more than effective incident response and well-done PR. It requires an intelligence-based approach that supports physical security, legal liabilities planning, and insurance calibration. Shootings like the ones that occurred at the Fontainebleau can quickly get out of hand and increase casualties, trigger lawsuits, generate bad PR, and cause insurance problems.

Sources and further reading:

Fontainebleau gunmen tried to hail a cab before disappearing down alley, cops believe,” Miami Herald, 8 May 2017.

Man, woman injured in shooting outside Fontainebleau Miami Beach,” Local 10 ABC News, 7 May 2017.

Suspect Captured at Fontainebleau in Miami Beach Manhunt,” Miami Beach Patch, 23 March 2017.

Shots fired at rap star’s SUV at Fontainebleau parking garage,” Local 10 ABC News, 16 September 2016.

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