Police said that a Florida event intended to be a family-friendly MLK Day celebration turned deadly when rival gang members had a “disagreement” which they tried to settle with guns.
More than 1,000 people gathered at Ilous Ellis Park, Fort Pierce, Florida on Monday afternoon to commemorate the legacy and life of Martin Luther King Jr. Around 5:20 p.m. car show participants were out having fun and heard gunfire.
At a press conference, Brian Hester, Chief Deputy of St. Lucie County, stated that “it was mass chaos,” as you can see when shots rang out. The event attracted over 1,000 people. As the shots began to ring out, people ran in every direction. Some of the chaos was captured by a passerby using a cellphone camera.
Hester was present at the scene. He was a participant in the MLK Parade and stated that other deputies were stationed in the park to maintain security and peace during the event. Some park visitors had other ideas, however.
Police believe there was a “discord of some kind” between rival gang members and that some gang members resolved the dispute with gun violence. Eight adults were shot in total, including a 30-year-old mother who was attacked in front of her 6-year-old child. On Tuesday morning, the woman was pronounced dead at the hospital. Her name has not yet been released.
Fox News reported Monday night that the man believed to be the brother of the victim told Fox News, while his sister was still living, that he would soon need to have a difficult conversation with his niece. He said, “There’s not much you can say to a 6-year-old about her mother being shot right in front of her.” “There is no word that can describe this.”
The shooting did not result in any injuries to children. Four other people, including one child, were hurt trying to flee the shooting. The child’s injuries and current condition have not been disclosed.
The shooter(s) fled the scene and no arrests were made. ABC News reported that police to have “leads,” and believe that at least two shooters were involved.
Hester said, “It’s very sad that someone who represented peace and equality is a victim of violence and guns to resolve that disagreement.”
Hester and Sheriff Ken Mascara held a press conference Tuesday to announce the death of the woman, and to pledge to bring justice to those who committed the act of violence. Hester called it “horrendous” while Mascara called it “heinous”, and warn others not to harbor the suspects or help them in any way. According to WPTV News, Hester stated that those who did so would be tried “to the maximum extent.”