Dozens of parents, students and others gathered Saturday to honor the memory of Tony Butler, cousin of DJ Dwight Harvey and homicide victim whose body was discovered in a burned out car last month.
Harvey and his family organized the “Peace in the City” cookout as a back-to-school anti-violence event where parents could pick up a backpack for their youngster and enjoy friends and fellowship. Around 5:20 p.m. a man fired off at least a dozen bullets into the crowd of about 150 people at Campbell Park in Titusville, but he wasn’t the only one with a gun, Florida Today reports.
“I was Facebooking live, just enjoying the scene,” Harvey told the news site. “I was like, who lit firecrackers? I turned around and just said, ‘Oh no, he’s got a gun, he’s got a gun.’”
“I thought to myself, ‘did this just happen?’ People were taking cover, everybody was scattered,” he said.
The shooter was involved in a fist fight at the event before leaving to return with the gun. But a bystander who was licensed to carry a firearm was already prepared, and didn’t hesitate to take action when the bullets rang out.
The gun-owner, who was not identified, fired on the shooter and put him down with life threatening injuries, then calmly waited for officers to arrive and cooperated with the investigation, WFTV reports.
Harvey’s Facebook video shows the moment the shots went off, as children and their parents looked through the backpacks.
He said the gravity of the situation hit him hard as he called out the names of children over the microphone to reconnect them with their families.
“My heart just sank,” he said. “I called out their names. I was just hoping no one was injured … please don’t let it be anyone I know. Thank God none of the kids got hit, but this could have been a lot worse.”
“This was standing your ground, in a situation like this with kids involved …,” Harvey said.
Local law enforcement seemed to agree.
“We are extremely grateful that nobody else was injured in this incident,” Deputy Chief Todd Hutchinson told the news site. “This suspect opened fire at a crowded public park, this could have been so much worse.”
The shooter, who has not been identified, was airlifted to Holmes Regional Medical Center for treatment and his condition was unknown Sunday, Florida Today reports.
According to the Orlando Sentinel:
Detectives consulted the state attorney’s office and no charges are expected to be filed against the bystander “as his actions were within the law based on the preliminary investigation,” (Titusville Police spokeswoman Amy) Matthews said.