Tampa Police Department investigators say that a fight between two groups happened and led to a shooting. One victim died at the scene and 19 others were taken to the hospital. A second victim died at the hospital from their injuries.
Authorities have confirmed that two individuals, a 14-year-old Elijah Wilson and a 20-year-old Harrison Boonstoppel, tragically lost their lives due to a sudden outbreak of gunfire. The incident occurred at approximately 2:47 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time in Tampa’s Ybor City district.
“It was a disturbance or a fight between two groups. And in this fight between two groups, we had hundreds of innocent people involved that were in the way,” Bercaw said.
The fight happened in an area that had multiple clubs and bars, Bercaw said. At the time of the incident, there were a large number of people out.
It is not clear if the people involved in the fight had been in any of the bars or clubs beforehand.
Bercaw said that one suspect surrendered to police. Police believe that there were at least two shooters.
“Our thoughts are with the victims impacted by this senseless act and our detectives are committed to holding those involved accountable,” Bercaw said.
The ages of the victims and their names have not been released.
Hillsborough State Attorney Susan Lopez said her office will work with the Tampa Police Department to “hold wrongdoers accountable.”
“We will assist in the investigation and stand ready to vigorously prosecute anyone who resorts to senseless gun violence and harms our community,” Lopez said. “I want to thank the police and the brave community members who acted so quickly to save lives this morning.”
Bercaw said around 50 officers were in Ybor at the time of the shooting, which occurred in the street as bars were preparing to close at 3 a.m. and “hundreds” were in the streets.
Bercaw also said several videos of the incident have surfaced on social media.
A video posted online shows people, many in Halloween costumes, drinking and talking on the street when about a dozen shots ring out, followed seconds later by about eight more, creating a stampede. Some people topple over metal tables and take cover behind them. Video from the aftermath shows police officers treating several people lying wounded on the ground.
Bercaw asked anyone who has video to call the Tampa Police Department non-emergency line at 813-231-6130.
“What happened is completely unacceptable,” Bercaw said Sunday afternoon. “And the Tampa Police Department is not going to tolerate it. We make arrests quickly. We have a sense of urgency. If you’re going to be out there with a gun, you’re going to pay for it.
“You have not only the Tampa Police Department, but you have all of our stakeholders, federal, state and local, that are out here that are going to hold all of those accountable for any senseless act of violence.”
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 gets,” said Minna Cohen, a 23-year-old recent University of Tampa graduate. “A lot of crime happens here often. You sometimes know not to go to certain places.”
Her friend, 21-year-old Carolina Londoner, said when the bars all close in the early morning hours, the streets are packed and unruly.
“When everyone comes together, it gets messy, and it’s that way all night,” she said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Tampa Police Department at 813-231-6130, send a tip via TIP411, or Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477).