The final hours of Memorial Day weekend quickly turned to horror for hundreds on Hollywood Beach in South Florida, where nine people—some feared to be bystanders—were shot on a boardwalk after a fight broke out between two groups.
Archived footage from a 24/7 boardwalk camera showed the beach erupt into a frenzy on Monday as shots rang out just before 7:00 p.m.—with panicked people, including children, trying to avoid slipping as they sprinted away in terror.
The shooting spurred from a “dispute between two groups,” said Deanna Bettineschi, a spokesperson for the Hollywood Police Department. Cops have not said what the identities of those involved are, nor have they released the conditions of victims.
Bettineschi said a person of interest was taken into custody and a second is on the run, but declined to name the duo. Police would not say if there was more than one shooter.
Bettineschi said victims were taken to the nearby Memorial Regional Hospital and to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. In a second update Monday night, Bettineschi confirmed 4 juveniles were shot, aged between 1 and 17, while 5 adults, aged between 25 and 65 were also victims.
One person was in surgery while the rest of the victims were stable, Bettineschi said, while urging members of the public with video footage of the incident to contact police.
Josh Levy, the mayor of Hollywood, said during the second briefing “that he was saddened and angered” at the news of the shooting. “People come to enjoy a holiday weekend on the beach with their families, and to have people in complete reckless disregard of the safety of the public and to have an altercation with guns in a public setting with thousands of people around them is beyond reckless,” Levi said.
“I know that the Hollywood Police Department will leave no stone unturned to apprehend the perpetrators of today’s incident.”
Levy said dozens of officers were assigned to the beach over the Memorial Day weekend with no incidents until the shooting. He thanked the “good samaritans” of the general public that helped render aid to gunshot wound victims and described the shooting as an “unreasonable act of violence.”
Police Chief of the City of Hollywood Chris O’Brien echoed Levy’s message that “we will leave no stone unturned,” in the hunt for those accountable.
He said “tens of thousands” of people visited the beach, while adding the scene remains active as officials investigate. He defended staffing as “adequate” and said that as the shooting began, officers nearby were able to respond immediately and detain suspects.
People claiming to be witnesses posted online that shots were fired outside Nicks Bar & Grill—a popular restaurant that’s attached to the Hollywood Beach boardwalk in Broward County.
Calls to the business, Mayor Levy and to the Hollywood Police Department went unanswered Monday night. A spokesperson for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office told The Daily Beast it was aware of an incident at Hollywood Beach but said it wasn’t the primary responding agency, so information would be released elsewhere.