When dozens of Miami police officers descended on Bayside Marketplace on New Year’s Day, immediate answers on what triggered the massive response were elusive. In the days since, authorities have told the public what occurred.
But in that temporary information vacuum, social media and conspiracy theorists have shared their ideas of what happened: A mass shooting. A possible riot. An alien invasion?
On Friday, the Miami Police Department released an Instagram video to put the rumors to bed, sparking another flood of online conversation. It was more tongue-in-cheek this time since police revealed a bombshell truth in its video — aliens did not invade Bayside.
“There is now video going viral of 8- to 10-foot aliens walking around Bayside,” police say in the now-viral video. “It is just a person walking with a shadow. So I can confirm to you all here today that there are no aliens in Miami [or] Bayside Marketplace, at the moment.”
What triggered the large police response?
On the night of New Year’s Day, 911 callers reported hearing what they thought were gunshots at Bayside Marketplace, 401 Biscayne Blvd., Officer Michael Vega, a police spokesman, told the Miami Herald earlier this week.
The incorrectly reported gunshots were 50 or so juveniles shooting fireworks at people, with some looting also occurring, police said in its Friday video.
Police called a city-wide emergency as officers already at Bayside were not able to contain the situation. That alert, called a “City-wide 3”, tells all active officers in the city to respond to the incident location.
“Some officers were heavily armed and approached the crowd displaying high-powered rifles, reflecting the fact that officers were initially erroneously told the situation involved an active shooter,” the Downtown Neighbors Alliance, an organization that represents residents of several condos in the area, said in an earlier news release.
That night, four teens — a 14-year-old, two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old — were arrested on charges ranging from burglary, third-degree grand theft, battery, and resisting arrest without violence, according to their arrest reports.
Miami Herald reporter Omar Rodríguez Ortiz contributed to this report.
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