crime_tape_web.jpgSpecial to South Florida Times

BOYNTON BEACH — In a vivid example of what some observers say is an escalation of violent crime in parts of Palm Beach County, the mother of two slain Boynton Beach sisters recently found herself caught in the crossfire of a deadly shooting in the city.

Mamie Norfus dropped off her grandchildren on June 12  at their mother’s home, when she landed in the middle of a police pursuit that ended with the police killing of a robbery suspect during an exchange of gunfire.

Boynton Beach police, who were chasing Calvin Wallace, 52, surrounded him at the corner of Northeast Ninth and Railroad avenues. Norfus said Wallace slammed into her car head-on.

“It happened so quickly. I didn’t see anything,” she said. “It was like I was frozen. Then the police were there.”

Norfus, 75, suffered minor injuries from the crash and is recuperating at home. Her 2005 Lexus was totaled.

The experience came as Norfus is grieving over the death in March of her daughters, Daphne Clemons, 41, and Janice Rahming, 54. They were shot and killed at Clemons’ home in the 1600 block of Northeast Second Court. The killings sparked outrage in the community and led to protests against ongoing violence in the city.

Boynton Beach Police Chief Matthew Immler said the shootings were likely in retaliation for another murder not directly tied to the sisters but that another relative may have been involved. The case is still under investigation.

Norfus said she was upset about the car wreck because she has been visiting her daughters’ gravesites every day and was concerned about transportation. She is however continuing to do so in a rental car.

West Palm Beach has also seen several shootings this year, most recently a drive-by shooting that injured a child.

Krystal Brown, 4, was shot in the face in her grandparents’ house in the 3200 block of Windsor Avenue on June 7. She was caught in the crossfire of an apparent gang-related shooting.
Police say the intended victim is not cooperating with authorities.

A statement released by Krystal’s doctor said if the bullet had struck her three inches on either side of the entry wound, it would most likely have killed her.

But West Palm Beach police spokesman Allan Ortman said such high-profile violent crimes were giving the wrong impression that such incidents were on the rise.

“There are some crimes that suddenly become sensational,” he said. “Because there is a 4-year-old girl involved, a crime like this brings attention.”

He described Krystal’s shooting as “unfortunate,” adding, “You can’t bulletproof your house completely.”

In total, seven fatal shootings have been reported in Palm Beach County since the beginning of the year, six involving law enforcement officers.

Cities where the shootings took place also include Greenacres, Lake Worth, Loxahatchee Groves and Riviera Beach.

In West Palm Beach, Ortman said the police department is aware of criminal activity in the neighborhoods but needs community input to help stem the violence.

Norfus noted that her daughters’ murderers are still at large and she hopes they will be apprehended soon to bring some sense of relief.

“The killers still haven’t been brought to justice.  Maybe I would feel better if they were behind bars,” she said.

It is difficult to put into words the pain and suffering these types of violent crimes can bring to families, Norfus said. She wants the community to know that it is still a struggle dealing with the loss of her two daughters, she said.