Gunshots broke out on Wednesday during the second annual Rick Ross Be Out Day charity event for children in Miami Gardens, Florida. When Ross took the stage, shots rang out across the street from the fundraiser, which was sponsored by the Florida rapper to raise money for back-to-school supplies for local children.
"The shots happened near the event ... across the street, but it was close enough that it seemed as if it happened in the park [where the show was taking place]," said Elora Mason, a publicist for Rick Ross Charities Inc., the event sponsor. "It's not clear what brought it on, but police said the person shooting appeared to be shooting in the air."
Captain Ralph Suarez, head of the Miami Gardens Police Department Investigations Unit, told MTV News that approximately 10 shots were fired into the air by two men in the park across the street, and police do not believe they were connected to the Ross gathering.
"They shot in the air and took off running, and we apprehended one and recovered one gun, and the other [suspect] is still at large," Suarez said. Police do not know why the men fired the shots yet, and he speculated that they would be charged with dangerous display.
Mason said the shooting occurred at around 4:30 p.m., shortly before the event was to wrap up and just as Ross took the stage along with the city's mayor and a state representative. For the safety of the officials and Ross, police cleared the stage.
"But Ross didn't want to leave his fans like that, because some people had been there even before the event started," Mason said. "So he returned to the stage for a brief performance, and then he went out into the audience to shake hands and sign autographs."
Though one report said people began fleeing the area once the shots rang out, Mason said that was inaccurate. "You hear shots, and you either get low or try to find yourself. And people did that when they realized it was not in the park. Everyone returned to their areas, hoping to see the rest of the show," she said, adding that it took "about five minutes" for attendees to realize the shooting was not happening in the park.
Because of the fired shots, though, Ross was only able to perform one song — accompanied by Flo Rida and Brisco — before police began clearing the area and working on the crime scene.
Prior to the event, a story on the charity initiative that ran in the Miami New Times described it as a party where "the community comes together for a day of food, fun and music from the Boss and his celebrity friends, all dedicated to promoting education and social responsibility." Last year's event featured appearances from Flo Rida, Yung Joc and DJ Khaled, and the paper promised that there would be "free food, drinks, and back-to-school supplies for the kids, so bring the fam."
The rapper — who has been fending off reports for the past few weeks that he spent time as a corrections officer before his rise as a rapper known for boasting of his former drug-trade ties — normally hands out the Rick Ross Be Out Scholarship at the party, which this year went to a Carol City Junior High graduate. Mason said 2,000 backpacks were also distributed to local youth.