A man was arrested in Tampa, Florida, in a mass shooting that broke out during the Halloween festivities early Sunday morning. Two people were killed and 18 were injured, police said.
At least two shooters opened fire shortly before 3 a.m. in the Ybor City area, Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw said during a news conference at the scene. Later Sunday he said detectives arrested Tyrell Stephen Phillips, 22, in connection with the shooting. He was charged with second-degree murder with a firearm.
“My heart goes out to the families,” Bercaw said in a news conference posted online. She called the gun violence “extremely tragic” and said police would not tolerate it.
Authorities previously said one suspect was in custody and at least another was being sought, but Bercaw did not immediately say Sunday afternoon whether police were looking for anyone else after Phillips' arrest.
"We make arrests quickly," Bercaw said at the briefing. "We have a sense of urgency and if you're going to be there with a gun, you're going to pay for it."
It was not immediately known if Phillips had an attorney and he remained jailed pending an initial court appearance Monday, according to officials and local reports.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, the city's former police chief, lamented that Tampa was the focus of national attention for “yet another shooting in our country.”
"We have to say, as a country, that enough is enough," he said.
The early morning brawl occurred in an area with several bars and clubs that was once the center of Tampa's tobacco industry. In more recent years, the area has been known for its lively nightlife, and Tampa police spokeswoman Jonee Lewis said "hundreds" of people were on the streets at the time of Sunday's shootings because numerous locals nights had just closed.
Police had not released the names of the dead, but Emmitt Wilson said his son Elijah, 14, was one of the victims. Wilson arrived at the scene Sunday after receiving a call informing her that his son was a victim.
“It's crazy for me. “I don’t even feel like I’m here right now,” Wilson said. "I hope the investigators do their job."
A video posted online shows people, many of them in Halloween costumes, drinking and talking in the street when about a dozen gunshots ring out, followed seconds later by about eight more. A stampede ensued, with some people falling onto metal tables and taking shelter behind them. Video recorded afterwards shows police officers treating several injured people lying on the ground.
“It was a riot or a fight between two groups. And in this fight between two groups we had hundreds of innocent people involved standing in the way,” Bercaw said.
He did not provide details of the injuries suffered by victims taken to area hospitals. Authorities later said most of the injured were treated and released.
Police are still investigating the reason for the fight between the two groups, he said.
Castor attributed Sunday's shootings to easy access to guns.
“Once again, a senseless loss of life by those who decide to settle a dispute with firearms. Lives were lost and others changed forever. To what end? -Castor asked. “The Tampa Police Department had 50 officers deployed to the area at the time, so this is not a law enforcement issue.
The shooting scene was quiet Sunday morning as officers had the area blocked off. The roosters that roam the historic streets of Ybor City wandered among empty glasses, beer bottles and abandoned shoes.
Two young women who arrived at the scene Sunday morning said they decided not to go to Ybor City the night before because of the crowds.
“We know how Ybor gets,” said Minna Cohen, 23, a recent graduate of the University of Tampa. “Many crimes are committed here frequently. “Sometimes you know you shouldn’t go to certain places.”
Her friend, Carolina Londoner, 21, said that when all the bars close early in the morning the streets are full and unruly.