(Sun Sentinel) Bullets from out of nowhere killed a man as he fished in a wildlife area Wednesday afternoon — and the source of the gunfire remains a mystery.
The shooting may have been accidental, according to Palm Beach Sheriff’s investigators. But they would not say why they thought that.
The sherif’f’s office also refused to say why they didn’t think anyone was targeting the victim, Lawrence Ramdass, or how many times he was hit.
The bullets flew as Ramdass, 46, was on a boat with his uncle and a family friend in the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area about two miles west of U.S. 27, near the Palm Beach Broward County Line, his cousin Sunita Moses said in a phone call Thursday.
“I’m very pro-gun but I’d never think to shoot a weapon at a waterway,” Moses said. “I’m concerned. I don’t think anyone is going to step forward.”
Ramdass’ uncle and the family friend dove out of the boat when the shooting began. Shortly after, they found Ramdass shot in the boat, his cousin said.
Once the two other men got back in the boat uninjured, Ramdass steered it back to land as paramedics headed to the area. He survived between 20 to 30 minutes but by the time paramedics arrived, he was dead, Moses said.
Firing a gun, regardless of whether it’s for hunting or target shooting, is allowed only during hunting season within the wildlife and conservation areas near Holey Land, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Amy Moore said.
“If someone was out there target shooting, they were doing so illegally,” she said.
Regardless of the season, shooting is banned off the paved road, named L-5, that runs parallel to the Palm Beach and Broward County line, and goes by the Harold A. Campbell Boat Ramp, near where the shooting happened, Moore said.
The next time shooting will be allowed in the wildlife management area and conservation areas is the next hunting season, which starts Aug. 5. It’s for bow hunting large animals, but target shooting will be allowed, she said.
She said that wildlife officers regularly catch people shooting illegally and that signs placed by the agency are shot down.
“Inside wildlife management areas, you can shoot during hunting seaso,n but other areas have workers. It is completely closed to target shooting. Closed every day of the year. People drive and sightsee on a regular basis.”
She urges people who target shoot to have a proper backstop to shoot into and know what’s behind what they’re shooting at.
She said it’s common for her agency to find people shooting illegally.
“They think it’s unincorporated area, but we’re out there,” Moore said. “We’ve been trying to educate people, but its been difficult with Florida being a high tourist area.”
Moore said people caught shooting off the L-5 road will face the same charges they would face for shooting off any road in a residential area, including discharging a firearm in public.
Moses said Ramdass was close to their large family. He moved to the U.S. from Guyana, just before Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and spent many years selling items at the Swap Shop.
“I have so many cousins, but this one hits close to home,” Moses said. “He always made the point to touch base with everyone, so I can’t believe he’s not here.”
Authorities ask anyone who was near the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area between 6 and 7 p.m. Wednesday and may have information is asked to call the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Violent Crimes Division at 561-688-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-8477.