PALMETTO BAY, Fla. – A teenager was robbed at gunpoint on his birthday at a park where several similar crimes have been committed.
Michelle Williams said it happened to her son Saturday afternoon at Palmetto Bay Park.
"A gun being pulled on a 15-year-old two minutes from his house with a park filled with people is unacceptable," she told Local 10 News.
Williams said her son was riding his bicycle with a friend through the park when the unassuming thieves approached and demanded the boys' phones.
"(One of the thieves) reached down, opened his backpack, showed him the gun," Williams said. "My son sat back. He was like, 'Here,' you know, 'take it.'"
The thieves snatched two phones from the boys, as well as Williams' son's bike.
"It was his birthday and his birthday present," Williams said.
She said whoever stole the bike was responding to text messages sent to the stolen phone, hoping to dupe her son into sending cash through a mobile app.
"Say, 'Yes, what's your Cash App name?'" Williams told her son. "Maybe they're clueless enough to (do it) and, sure enough, they sent the Cash App name, and now the police have that."
Williams said she later learned about the park's troubling history.
"Here's one," Williams said while scrolling through a list of social media complaints about Palmetto Bay Park. "It says, 'They stole my son's phone on the basketball court, too.'"
She read post after post about how the park isn't safe.
There was at least a glimmer of good news for Williams. The birthday boy's bike has already been replaced.
"This is a gift from my co-worker," she said, showing off a brand new bike.
Miami-Dade police are investigating the thefts. The mayor of Palmetto Bay is also pushing for increased patrols at the park.