MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — A New York man who was fatally shot outside a South Beach cafe had advocated for years against guns and violence, according to former co-workers.
Lavon Walker, 30, of Brooklyn, New York, was shot twice early Sunday while standing on a sidewalk along Ocean Drive, Miami Beach police said.
Walker was pronounced dead at a Miami hospital, police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez told The Miami Herald (http://hrld.us/2dhRXML ). No one else was injured.
Walker, a former outreach worker at the Crown Heights Mediation Center, had been on vacation in Florida, according the center’s director.
“It was the anniversary of a family member’s death. He was trying to get away for a little while,” Amy Ellenbogen told the Herald.
Walker had volunteered for years with a New York group, Save Our Streets, which advocates against gun violence, Ellenbogen said.
A 2010 New York Times article quoted Walker as saying he was one of four volunteers who would speak with young people in areas where there had been shootings.
“We find out what their needs are, anything that’s going to gear them or shift them to a different mentality toward gun violence,” he told the Times. “We become like their bigger brothers, even closer than their fathers.”
Walker told Al-Jazeera in 2014 that he volunteered because he had spent his youth selling drugs, robbing cars and stores and fighting with gang members. The Herald reported that Walker appeared to have no criminal history in New York, but any juvenile records would be sealed.
Police have not announced any arrests or motive in the shooting outside the News Cafe. The restaurant is infamous for being the site of fashion designer Gianni Versace’s last meal in 1997 before he was murdered by a serial killer on the steps of his mansion a few blocks away.
Detectives have recovered a Jeep believed to be involved in the shooting, and they have detained “multiple persons of interest” in Miami who are cooperating with the investigation, Rodriguez said in an email on Tuesday.