At least six people suffered gunshot-related wounds Saturday night after a large gathering in Daytona Beach kicked off Memorial Day Weekend, according to USA Today. More than 200 people were observed partying on the sidewalk and blocking the road in the heart of the city's tourist area amid social distancing guidelines, which required police to shut down all traffic coming over the bridges on to Daytona Beach's barrier island.
Police Chief Craig Capri told reporters Sunday at a news conference that two people were shot around 7:30 p.m. on South Ocean Avenue, and that four people were hit by shrapnel during the shooting. None of the injuries are life-threatening, he said. Capri added that no arrests had been made in the shooting, as the victims are not cooperating with the investigation.
While police were prepared for crowds as Florida continues its reopening process amid the pandemic, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said the whole area got "slammed" with people not remaining in groups of fewer than 10 people and staying six feet apart from one another. "Disney's closed. Universal's closed. Everything's closed. So where did everybody come on the first warm day with 50 percent opening? Everybody came to the beach," he noted.
One incident, in particular, was troubling when a man appeared to be tossing money from a vehicle, attracting a large crowd. "We're going to identify him, and we're going to charge him," Chitwood said of the driver, although he did not elaborate on the possible charges facing him.
Capri claimed that police never lost control of the situation at large and worked to disperse crowds as they saw them. He added that no arrests were made in regard to social distancing practices. "I know people were scared and I know people were upset about the numbers of crowds there," he said. "We don't take this lightly especially with the crowds gathering together right now as we got the coronavirus still going around and people not practicing social distancing. But I'm not the social distancing police — that's not my job."
Meanwhile, Florida's Department of Health reported 720 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths on Sunday alone, marking 50,867 total cases of the novel coronavirus in Florida, resulting in a death toll of 2,237 people. For more information on the latest safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visit the agency's website.