BY ANDREAS BUTLER
A fight between two young men turned into a shootout on Monday evening at Derbyshire Park in Daytona Beach.
Gunshots were fired at 6:37 p.m. with an estimated 300 to 350 people in the park. Officers arrived on the scene a few minutes later, according to a Daytona Beach Police Department report.
Also at the time, two youth football programs were practicing at the park and others were participating in basketball, tennis and other activities.
The Daytona Beach Buccaneers Pop Warner program practices in the back of the park at the old softball fields and the Daytona Beach Hurricanes hold practice at the soccer field next to the old YMCA building.
Fight, then shots
Police say the incident started when Stephon Shropshire, 20, confronted Ocean Maddox, 18, in the park about an earlier incident.
Maddox punched Shropshire in the face and a fight broke out. Several football coaches came to the scene to break up the fight, but it rekindled several times.
The report also indicates that Maddox went to a vehicle and got a gun when he was followed by Shrophshire.
Maddox fired several shots in the air, and Shrophshire who responded by going to a vehicle to get a firearm and firing back.
Residents stay mum
Joi Hart-Gillis, who lives across the street from the park, went to her door to see what was going on and a bullet grazed her knee, according to police. At the time, it was unclear who had shot her.
Captain Craig Capri of the police department said, “This is very dangerous. It’s ridiculous. We have a zero tolerance policy on such violence.”
Star athlete arrested
Early Tuesday morning, Maddox was arrested and charged with discharging a firearm from a vehicle. He was later released on $2,000 bond.
Later that morning, Shropshire turned himself into authorities. He was charged with discharging a firearm from a vehicle and violating probation from a 2009 arrest. There was no bail set for Shropshire.
Maddox is a star basketball player and football player at Halifax Academy in Daytona Beach. School officials would only confirm that he is a student but wouldn’t comment on the matter.
Police presence beefed up
Officers met with parents on Tuesday about the incident. As a result, additional police officers will be present at the practices from now on. They will be there from 2-10 p.m. weekdays and on Saturday’s from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The Hurricanes, who play in the American Youth Football League, were near the scene of the shooting.
Parents are happy with the police presence but some feel that more needs to be done to ensure the safety of the children.
“I am concerned for not only my kids but all the kids’ safety. The (mobile) command truck will sit for not for a week but after that, then what?” Norman asked.
Norman has two sons and a nephew playing football with the Hurricanes program.
Rosie Clark has two children involved with the program. Her 11 year-old son, J.C., plays football and her eight year-old daughter, Hannah, is a cheerleader.
“I definitely don’t feel safe. This is the second incident that we had. At a recent game, we had one of the parents from Gainesville get into a fight with a neighborhood kid. There are so many kids out here practicing. We need the police officers. They promised us that they will protect us,” Clark told the Daytona Times.
Unnerving for children
Some children were shaken by the incident.
“We heard the shots and we all ran towards the YMCA,” commented J.C. Clark.
Hannah Clark added, “I was playing on the playground since we didn’t have practice that day. I was walking and I started running after the gun shots were fired. I was afraid, especially for my brother who was practicing.’’
Jackie Ireland is concerned about safety but said she can’t live in fear.
Ireland has two sons who play for the Buccaneers and a daughter who cheers.
“They said that they will be here for the rest of the season. We all have to remember that this could have happened anywhere. Some people just have no concern for others and only think of themselves. We cannot live in fear. We must trust in God and keep moving forward,” Ireland added.
“With our mobile command unit, its like having a mini police station there,” added Capri. “We are beefing up our presence. We are 100 percent committed to detering crime and protecting the children.”