UPDATE (8/12/18): Police have yet to release the names of either the suspect or the bystander, but officials have said the bystander won’t be charged due to the state’s “stand your ground” law. The suspect is still alive and recovering in an area hospital. The suspect’s father sat down for an interview with local station WFTV. He apologized for his son’s actions but also said he wished the bystander had kept his gun holstered: “He could have taken the description of my son, of the car and the license plate and said, ‘Here,’ to law enforcement, so they can do the job they’re paid to do,” he said.
The first inaugural “Peace in the City” back-to-school event in Titusville, Fl., would have ended in tragic irony if not for a concealed carrier who stepped in to stop the crazed man before anyone was injured.
“We are extremely grateful that nobody else was injured in this incident,” said Deputy Chief Todd Hutchinson. “This suspect opened fire at a crowded public park, this could have been so much worse.”
Police say the suspect left the rally after being involved in a fistfight and returned minutes later with a handgun. He began firing into the crowd of children and families who had gathered at Isaac Campbell Park to stand up against violence and celebrate the beginning of the school year.
“(The suspect) was confronted by a concerned citizen who saw him running away with the firearm and confronted him and (the suspect) pointed the firearm at him so that concerned citizen took action into his own hands and shot the perpetrator,” Titusville Police Sgt. Bill Amos told a local CBS affiliate. “It’s a miracle. That’s all you can say.”
“He’s a hero,” Amos continued. “This park was filled with families and children and, at that time, it was an active shooter situation for him and he was trained enough to deal with it and he did.”
Video taken by the event’s DJ, Dwight Harvey, shows two bounce houses and hundreds of people, including dozens of young children, enjoying a hot summer evening under a pavilion. Suddenly, twelve shots ring out and the attendees begin running from the scene.
“I was like, who lit firecrackers? I turned around and just said, ‘Oh no, he’s got a gun, he’s got a gun,’” Harvey told Florida Today. “I thought to myself, ‘did this just happen?’ People were taking cover, everybody was scattered.”
Harvey said he was thankful that a private citizen was in the right place at the right time to quickly end what could have been an even worse situation.
Police haven’t named the suspect or the individual who stepped in. It’s also unclear from the video which shots were fired by the suspect and which were fired by the bystander.
The suspect was airlifted to the hospital with critical injuries and was still alive as of Saturday evening. Police say his gun was recovered from the scene.
After consulting with the State Attorney’s office, police say no charges are expected against the bystander as his actions were within the law based on the preliminary investigation. Police say the individual remained on the scene and has been cooperative with the investigation.
“Folks gonna come out here and shoot around kids… it’s just hard for me to understand,” Harvey told WKMG News 6 ClickOrlando.