Law enforcement addresses crowds and gun violence over holiday weekend.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Large crowds and gun-related incidents during the Memorial Day weekend in Daytona Beach kept law enforcement busy.
This came a week after block parties in DeLand resulted in arrests, clashes between law enforcement and massive crowds and racism claims.
Memorial Day in Daytona started with a police-involved shooting of an armed suspect between the Wawa convenience store at 120 Ridgewood Ave., near the intersection of International Speedway Boulevard.
Two days earlier, police dealt with large crowds during a beachside event at 43 S. Atlantic Ave. where two people were shot and four injured from a shrapnel.
‘We had a plan’
Despite criticism from the community, law enforcement says they’re prepared and responded properly.
“We are used to dealing with large crowds, especially during Bike Week and spring break,” said Daytona Beach Police Chef Craig Capri. “We had a plan in place, we were there and able to respond.”
Police say crime is down in the city but reiterate social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Major crimes are down 31 percent. It’s still a pandemic. We encourage everyone to practice social distancing,” Capri stressed.
Officers shoot man
Early Monday morning, police responded to a call of an armed man with an assault rifle.
According to reports, the man attempted to car jack a woman at a Popeye’s nearby.
Police say the woman was a Popeye’s employee getting off work. She was able to get away and called authorities. The man was confronted by officers at Wawa near Walgreens where he pointed a rifle at police.
Police fired six shots at the suspect, who was taken to Halifax Hospital where he is recovering. The woman was unharmed.
The officers involved were not injured and are on paid administrative leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigates. No names had been released.
“I’m proud of my officers. They acted very professional and did their job and what they were supposed to. It’s unfortunate someone was shot, but they pointed a rifle at officers. This was dictated by the suspect’s actions,” said Capri.
“The suspect will live. The woman is fine and co-operating. The officers are doing fine,’’ he added
Shots fired on beachside
On Saturday night, police responded to gunfire where two people were shot and four others injured from shrapnel.
It took place during the event, “Orlando Invades Daytona,’’ which drew a crowd of 10,000 from cities such as Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville to Daytona’s beachside.
“It was a busy weekend. Everything is closed in Florida, but our beaches are open. Everyone seemed to come here,” said Capri.
“We had some minor issues. Anybody getting shot is not a good thing. The quarantine is over, and as you can see, we’re back to busy,’’ he added.
There was also a video footage of a man throwing money into the crowd, possibly shooting a music video.
Law enforcement says crowds were dispersed by 11:40 p.m.
“We worked in collaboration with the sheriff’s department and beach patrol. We had intel. We were there. Ninety percent of the crowd was in compliance. It’s just unfortunate this happened,” said Capri.
Police also broke up parties around town, including on Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard on Saturday night.
DeLand moving forward
On May 21, a press conference took place at the Spring Hill Resource Center to express concerns about the series of block parties held in Spring Hill, a predominantly Black neighborhood in DeLand last week.
The incident made national headlines.
The press conference was hosted by the Minority Elected Officials of Volusia County, West Volusia NAACP, Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP, Concerned Clergy Coalition and Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance.
Officials addressed how to move forward.
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic and must follow the CDC and governor’s guidelines. Blacks are being affected at higher rates,” stressed Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood.
“We are working with the community to find a way to move forward and have fun, safe and legal activities.”
Volusia County Council woman Barbara Girtman noted, “We are working with law enforcement to bring change. We are working on bringing resources to address the needs of the community. We must work with the young people and understand their needs may not be what ours are.”
Ebony Phillips was at one of the block parties and disapproved of law enforcement’s methods.
“Law enforcement did get out of hand. They even beat one man real bad,” she said.
Vadricka Gordon, who owns the C-Store in DeLand, said law enforcement harassed her business.
“They blocked the doors and wouldn’t let anyone in the store for about 30 minutes,” said Gordon. “We had nothing to do with what was going on outside. We were given no apology and told to take out a complaint,’’ she said.