Apparent Argument Triggers Multiple Shootings on Clearwater Beach
UPDATE at 9:30 a.m. May 27:
The Tampa Bay Times reports four people have formally been charged in connection with three separate shooting incidents on Clearwater Beach on Monday night that left two wounded.
Police have charged Jerry L. Holmes, 31, with shooting into an occupied structure. Terrance Antonio Kirnes, 20, was charged with resisting an officer without violence. In what they have called a separate case, Jeffrey J. Grier, 20, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, being a felon in possession of ammunition, possession of drug paraphernalia and three counts of violation of probation. Jared Kashon Woodard, 19, was charged with possession of marijuana and improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon. It was not immediately clear which charges stemmed from which shooting incident.
Clearwater police believe an argument between two groups led to the gunfire. They have not said if other people involved in the shootings are being sought. The two people shot are expected to recover.
UPDATE at 10:30 p.m. May 26:
Officials now say eight people are being questioned at Clearwater Police headquarters in connection with a trio of shooting incidents on Clearwater Beach that left two people wounded Monday night. A number of firearms were also recovered.
The first shooting reportedly happened on the road outside the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa after two groups apparently had some form of disagreement. Police officials say one group was in the temporary parking lot just north of Second Street and the other group was near the corner of Coronado and Second Street.
After a fight occurred, someone fired a gun. Shortly after that, someone shot from a floor of the Hyatt parking garage down to the temporary parking lot north of the Hyatt. Then, a third shooting scene developed a short time later in the 300 block of South Gulfview Boulevard.
Police had closed the Hyatt down for a short time to search the hotel rooms. The hotel is now open, and law officials say they're visiting Clearwater Beach businesses to make sure they're clear as well.
ORIGINAL POST at 9:45 p.m. May 26:
Clearwater Police say what may have started as a verbal argument on Clearwater Beach apparently led to three separate shooting incidents Monday night.
Clearwater Public Communications Director Joelle Castelli says two groups of people apparently started arguing near the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa shortly before 7 p.m. After words were exchanged, a weapon was reportedly fired from the resort's garage at a group in the temporary parking lot below.
Shots were then apparently fired at two other locations. Castelli says two people were shot - one victim who was hit in the hand fled the scene and was found a short distance away on the beach. A second victim, who was hit in the groin, was taken to an unnamed local hospital.
Police took five people into custody. Names and charges have not been disclosed at this time. Castelli says investigators are looking at a number of possibilities, including that the incident may have been gang-related. She says none of the victims hit were bystanders and were members of the arguing groups.
For awhile, bridges to Clearwater Beach were closed to all but local residents, but they have since been reopened.
However, as of 9:15 Monday night, police were still trying to clear multiple scenes, although they weren't looking for more suspects. Sections of Gulfview Boulevard, including the area in front of the Hyatt and its parking garage, were closed at that time.
We'll have more information as it becomes available.