Attack or political stunt? Sweetwater mayoral candidate campaigns with bullet-riddled minivan

23-05-2019 22:05

A Sweetwater commissioner who is running for mayor in a hotly contested race has come under fire after one of his campaign workers claimed someone shot at a minivan used to display campaign posters.

Sweetwater Commissioner Jose Diaz is running against sitting Mayor Orlando Lopez in a runoff election set for May 28.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Lopez said he has no doubt this was a stunt.

“I’m trying to take the high road on this rather than what he does, which is try to point fingers when he knows, his camp knows, that this was staged,” Lopez said.

The minivan’s driver told 7News in Spanish that he didn’t hear the shots but felt the bullets’ impact near Southwest 109th Avenue and Sixth Street, Sunday.

Two bullet holes pierced the driver’s door of the Honda Odyssey, which is decorated with Diaz’s signs on top.

The driver said that he was worried for his life.

“I don’t believe the mayor or his supporters are going to come to the extreme of doing this, but anything could happen,” Diaz said.

Sweetwater Police Chief Placido Diaz said he wants to know why the incident was not reported until the next day. He added that there are too many inconsistencies in the driver’s account, but they are taking the report seriously.

“I have a hard time justifying how two rounds can be fired in such a manner where they’re consistent with one another and the statements that were given with the vehicle in motion,” he said.

The police chief said he wants to get to the truth and determine whether someone made a false report or whether something really happened.

“I am very confident that we will bring either one party or the other justice,” he said.

Tuesday night, both candidates defended their campaign teams.

“The mayor has attacked me in a way that has never been done in the history of Miami-Dade County to a candidate, so all the possibilities are open,” said Diaz.

“There has never been a shot at a moving vehicle in this city, and to be able to do this to try to win a political race is really tasteless,” said Lopez.

Police have reached out to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office to help with their investigation.

“There’s nobody above the law here, whether it’s the mayor or anybody else, for that matter, or the other campaign,” said the police chief. “We are apolitical, and we are treating this as a potential crime.”