- Police still looking for another shooter who opened fire on a crowd at a Tampa Halloween party
A man is in custody after two people were shot and 15 others injured following a melee at a Tampa Halloween party early Sunday in one of three shootings across the country over the weekend.
Tyrell Phillips, 22, faces charges of second-degree murder in the case. The shooting broke out near the Tangra nightclub in the Ybor City neighborhood around 3:00 a.m. The other suspect in the shooting remains at large.
One of the victims died at the scene, another was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead. A shocking total of 16 people were also taken to area hospitals, with 15 of them being treated for gunshot wounds.
Among the dead was 14-year-old Elijah Wilson. His father told Bay News 9 that his son was a good kid who got involved with the wrong crowd. The other victim has so far been identified only as a 22-year-old white male.
Only five of them remain in hospital, where they are in stable condition. All the victims are between the ages of 14 and 27.
“We make arrests quickly,” Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercow said at a briefing. “We have a sense of urgency, and if you’re going to be out there with a gun, you’re going to pay for it.”
Later Sunday, Elijah Wilson’s father, Emmitt, came to the scene of the shooting.
“You never expect it to happen. A lot of people were shot and he was one of the unlucky ones to take it. I have to take this loss right away,” Wilson said.
It was not known if Phillips had an attorney and he remained jailed pending an initial court appearance Monday, according to officials and local reports.
The area has been known for its lively nightlife in recent years, and Tampa police spokeswoman Joni Lewis said “hundreds” of people were on the streets at the time of Sunday’s shootings, as many nightclubs had just closed.
Florida Congressman Matt Goetz tweeted that he and his wife were “heartbroken” over the shooting.
“Ybor City is a place of vibrancy and life in our beloved Florida. Ginger and I are heartbroken to learn of the recent violence that has resulted in death and other casualties.
Some residents were outraged by the remarks, with one person replying, “I don’t know what Ybor City you’re talking about, but it’s been a crime-ridden dump for 20 years.”
Another person wrote: ‘[Florida Governor Ron DeSantis] he needs to go back to Florida and back to his paid job!!’
Alicia Duffy of New York New York Pizza, who works in the area, told Bay News 9 that her staff barricaded themselves inside the restaurant after hearing the gunshots.
“You don’t want anyone near the windows.” It’s a shame because people were screaming and trying to get in, but, but I can’t… and at our back door, people were trying to break down the back door. I know people were scared, but we are too,” she said.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, the city’s former police chief, complained that Tampa was the focus of national attention because of “another shooting in our country.”
“We need to say as a country, enough is enough,” she said.
“The majority of Americans support responsible firearms ownership. They also support reasonable regulations,” the mayor added.
“You can’t stop a criminal from buying a gun,” Robert Reardon, who works at New York New York Pizza, told WFLA.
The early-morning brawl took place in an area with several bars and clubs that was once the center of Tampa’s cigar industry.
Video posted online showed people, many in Halloween costumes, drinking and talking in the street when about a dozen shots rang out, followed seconds later by about eight more.
A stampede ensued, with some people rolling over metal tables and hiding behind them. Video of the aftermath shows police treating several people lying wounded on the ground.
“It was a disturbance or a fight between two groups. And in this fight between two groups we had hundreds of innocent people involved who got in the way,” Bercow said.
He did not provide details on the injuries of the victims who were taken to area hospitals. Authorities later said most of the injured had been treated and released.
Police are still investigating the cause of the fight between the two groups, he said.
Two young women who came to the scene Sunday morning said they decided not to go to Ybor City the night before because of the crowds.
“We know how Ybor goes,” said Mina Cohen, 23, a recent graduate of the University of Tampa. “Many crimes often happen here. Sometimes you know you shouldn’t go to certain places.
Her friend, Carolina Londoner, 21, said that when all the bars close in the early hours of the morning, the streets are packed and unruly.
“When everyone gets together, it gets messy and it’s like that all night,” she said.