Several were shot at a St. Petersburg club last month. So far nobody faces charges.

Police defended the club, Cabana Sands, saying it has taken undue blame.
A shell casing rested in the parking lot outside Cabana Sands hours after at least five people were shot. The club is in the background.
A shell casing rested in the parking lot outside Cabana Sands hours after at least five people were shot. The club is in the background. [ JOSH SOLOMON | Times ]
Published Jan. 29, 2020|Updated Jan. 29, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — Police on Tuesday offered residents of Coquina Key an update on a nightclub shooting that occurred nearby over the Christmas holiday.

Nobody has been arrested, St. Petersburg police Maj. Frank Williams said, and police are working with the club and property owners on ways to reduce criminal activity in the future.

For key resident Mike McGraw, one of about 20 people at the neighborhood association meeting, that wasn’t good enough.

“I’m shocked that the police have no updates to a mass shooting,” he said after the meeting.

The shooting happened in the early hours of Dec. 26 outside Cabana Sands, a club in the corner of the Coquina Key Shopping Plaza near the intersection of Sixth Street and 45th Avenue S. Williams said an altercation between groups at the bar escalated in the parking lot after security kicked them out. It culminated in at least five people being shot, none fatally, and eight injured.

Officers were actually at the plaza investigating a car crash when the shooting broke out. No officers were injured.

Police quickly said they were looking for two people who may have been involved in the incident, but Williams said Tuesday investigators are unsure if those two people participated in the shooting.

Since Cabana Sands opened on Labor Day 2018, police have been called to the club more than 600 times, records show. Many of the calls were related to noise and crowds. Some have been related to battery and brawling. At least two were related to gunshots.

The plaza parking lot is known as a spot where people do doughnuts in their cars. Williams defended Cabana Sands, saying people have been “piling on” blame on the club for some of the recklessness happening outside its walls.

“Everybody is trying to put everything on Cabana Sands," the major said. “From my standpoint, I think it’s the people that (are) hovering outside.”

He said police and the plaza owner were working on solutions like increasing lighting and installing parking stops in spaces to reduce the open area where cars drive in circles, and that police have suggested the club hire off-duty officers as security. Williams said the club has rearranged speakers to mitigate noise and that police calls have been down since the beginning of the year.

That didn’t satisfy McGraw.

“If five people were shot at the Canopy restaurant on Beach Drive, this would have been a city-wide emergency,” he said during the meeting. “Right now we’re isolated down here.”