Police: Celebratory gunfire wounds guest at Florida theme park

A guest at Busch Gardens was wounded by celebratory gunfire during the theme park's Fourth of July fireworks.
Fireworks explode over Busch Gardens in Tampa in 2015. Police say a guest was injured by celebratory gunfire during the 2018 celebration. Tampa Tribune Files
Fireworks explode over Busch Gardens in Tampa in 2015. Police say a guest was injured by celebratory gunfire during the 2018 celebration.Tampa Tribune Files
Published July 5 2018
Updated July 5 2018

TAMPA — A guest at the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay amusement park was wounded by a stray bullet while watching the Fourth of July firework show Wednesday night.

Tampa Police believe Scott Deel, 36, was struck in the shoulder by a celebratory bullet that was fired outside the park’s property following its Fourth of July celebration around 11:30 p.m.

A statement released by Busch Gardens says Deel was transported to Tampa General Hospital.

RELATED: St. Petersburg teenager injured by celebratory gunfire

"We are working closely with the Tampa Police Department on this incident as the safety of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s guests, team members and animals in our care is always our top priority," the statement read.

While Deel is the only victim who was injured, two other Tampa residents reported property damage from stray bullets Wednesday night.

Elaine Hunter, 61, of Tampa, came home to her apartment to find a hole in her ceiling and a projectile on her bedroom floor, according to police.

RELATED: Fourth of July fireworks canceled in St. Petersburg, cut short in Tampa

Vonshay Cunningham, 39, who lives less than a mile from Busch Gardens, noticed a hole in the windshield of her 2016 Kia Sol that was sitting in her driveway. After responding to the scene, police identified a bullet on the driver’s side floor board and determined the evidence on scene was consistent with other stray bullets from July 4 celebratory gunfire.

In a release, Tampa Police said Deel was walking through Busch Gardens when he felt a sudden pain in his left shoulder.

After his wife noticed he was bleeding, Deel was treated by a Busch Gardens first aid center, where a Tampa Police officer observed a bullet wound in his left shoulder, according to the release.

The bullet appears to have traveled from behind deal and at a downward trajectory, according to the release.

This incident is similar to those in 2015, when a woman was shot in the leg by a stray celebratory bullet at Busch Gardens during a New Year’s celebration, and 2012, when a woman was wounded during a Fourth of July celebration in Temple Terrace.

No arrests have been made in either of Wednesday night’s incidents, police said.

Times Staff Writer Josh Fiallo contributed to this report. This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.

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