Florida Spring Break shooting: Seven students wounded, suspect in custody – Christian Science Monitor
Panama City Beach, Fla. — Seven people have been shot at a spring break house party in the Florida Panhandle.
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office says multiple 911 calls flooded in just before 1 a.m. Saturday reporting gunshots in Panama City Beach.
Deputies arriving at the scene found victims in, outside and nearby the home. Several of the victims were described as Alabama A&M students visiting the Panhandle for spring break.
No fatalities are reported from the shooting, but at least three of the victims are hospitalized in critical condition.
A 22-year-old man from Mobile, Ala., David Jamichael Daniels, has been charged with seven counts of attempted murder and is jailed awaiting a first court appearance.
For [Sheriff Frank] McKeithen and some others watching Spring Break, there had been a fear that it was only a matter of time until violence erupted due to the proliferation of people coming into town with guns.
“It has been very frustrating because you listen to people stand up and say that Spring Break isn’t really that bad and we’ve been trying to tell them it is,” McKeithen said. “It was only a matter of time and it’s only a matter of time until it happens again if we don’t address it.”
“This is what we’ve been trying to warn people about. It’s been a rough time and there are two completely different elements of Spring Break. There are the college kids who are here for their Spring Break, and there is the group of people drawn here because of them.”
A 40-caliber handgun matching the description of the one used in the shooting was recovered in the backyard of a residence on Beach Drive, but McKeithen said the exact circumstances surrounding the shootings still were under investigation Saturday.
The Christian Science Monitor reports Panama City has been wrestling with the pros and cons of the annual Spring Break influx. Businesses say they’ve come to depend on the estimated $1 billion in annual revenue.
While other Florida beach towns have basically banned the spring break ruckus, Panama City Beach this year is taking a strict yet nuanced view of the estimated 300,000 revelers flocking southward as the dogwoods prepare to bloom. Already, the county sheriff’s department has arrested over 500 people and processed them in open-air jail cells. And given the legality of alcohol on the beach proper, the debauchery is on the national front burner, largely thanks to the work of Fox News, whose Sean Hannity has complained about America’s seeming acceptance of loose morals and alcohol over-indulgence.
… Officials, starting this year, forced bars to close two hours earlier than last year, mandated valid IDs to quaff on the beach, and banned a spring time practice of digging massive holes in the beach sand in order to engage in illicit behaviors.
But officials in Spring Break-averse towns like Daytona Beach say that appealing to college students is already a risky economic development endeavor, given a “herd mentality” that can quickly move on to the next host beach, where their money, at least for a little while, is welcome.