Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Shootings on Clearwater Beach spark chaos and confusion on Memorial Day

CLEARWATER — A series of shootings broke out on Clearwater Beach on Monday evening, sparking chaos and confusion as people ran for cover.

At least two people were shot and eight people were in custody late Monday night as Clearwater police continued to search the area near the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa, 301 S Gulfview Blvd.

"People ran like ants," said David Bundy, who was eating at a table outside Post Corner Pizza, 431 S Gulfview Blvd. "We went inside because no one knew where the shooter was or how many there were."

The shootings started about 6:48 p.m. when a fight between two groups erupted in gunfire, said Joelle Castelli, a Clearwater spokeswoman.

One group was in the temporary parking lot north of the Hyatt's parking garage; the other group was at the corner of Coronado Drive and Second Street. A fight broke out, she said. At some point, someone left and returned with a gun. After that, someone went into the Hyatt garage and opened fire on the group below, she said.

A third shooting scene developed a little while later near Frenchy's South Beach Cafe at 351 S Gulfview Blvd., she said.

One person was shot in the groin and taken to a local hospital. Another person was shot in the hand and fled, she said.

A SWAT team was seen going into the Hyatt about 9:45 p.m. The hotel was in lock down as police searched room-to-room and combed the parking garage.

Police also closed off access to the beach, completely shutting the Memorial Causeway at first, and later limiting access to residents only. Traffic was snarled as there are few roads in and out of the area. The beach was reopened about 10:15 p.m.

Geography made it difficult for people to leave the area, Castelli said, but it also aided police as they were able to close roads and hamper the shooters' ability to flee.

Police had not arrested the eight people in custody, but Castelli said it was possible they would face weapons charges as police found multiple guns. The people in custody were being interviewed at the main police station Monday night.

Cody Holdsworth, a 23-year-old server at a Crabby Bill's restaurant, said she saw fights breaking out on the beach involving large groups of teens.

"I saw people pushed down to the concrete. It wasn't a good scene," she said. "My customers were scared."

She didn't hear the gunshots, but said customers said they did.

Bundy, the pizza customer, said he'd never seen anything like it and felt it took too long for police to arrive — he estimated five minutes.

"There should have been more security" given the crowd, he said. He described a crowd of teenagers and young adults, yelling at each other and blaring their radios as they cruised Gulfview.

He said he could partly see a male who was shot. "People were walking up to him and people would look at him for five seconds and walk away," he said.

Castelli discounted the notion that the beach was improperly monitored.

"We have a lot of police presence on the beach, especially on the holiday weekend," she said.

While police did not know what prompted the shootings, she said it appeared to be limited to the two groups that knew each other.

"Safety is our No. 1 priority," she said. "I'd bring my family here tomorrow."

Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157. On Twitter: @lauracmorel. Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Law enforcement officials investigate the shootings, which started about 6:48 p.m. near the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa. Video from the scene is at tampabay.com/video.

Courtesy of Zoe Bryant

Law enforcement officials investigate the shootings, which started about 6:48 p.m. near the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa. Video from the scene is at tampabay.com/video.

Shootings on Clearwater Beach spark chaos and confusion on Memorial Day 05/26/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 7:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Paul Rodgers replacing ZZ Top on Ribfest 2017 lineup

    Blogs

    In looking to replace the ailing ZZ Top, Ribfest found some good company in Bad Company.

    Paul Rodgers
  2. Some teachers allege 'hostile and racially charged' workplace at Pinellas Park Middle

    K12

    PINELLAS PARK — Two black teachers at Pinellas Park Middle have requested transfers out of the school, alleging the work environment there has become "hostile and racially charged."

    Pinellas Park Middle School at 6940 70th Ave N, where some black teachers have alleged they were treated with hostility by colleagues after starting a tutoring program for black students. Just 22 percent of black students were proficient in English language arts in last spring's state tests. Two black teachers have asked to be transfered, according to a letter from two local chapters of the NAACP. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Editorial: The unknown price tags in the mayor's race

    Editorials

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has been busy promoting all sorts initiatives in the months leading up to the Nov. 7 election, doubling down on his progressive agenda without spending much money or generating much controversy. But make no mistake, the cost will come due after the election. Without a change in …

    The mayor is determined to get artist Janet Echelman to create a sculpture for the new Pier. But the cost would be much higher than what is allocated. Above is Echelman’s As If It Were Already Here in Boston.
  4. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  5. Judge won't cut prison term of man who pleads obesity

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A claim of obesity won't shave time off a Tampa man's prison sentence.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.