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Armed citizen takes down shooter at back-to-school event

A handgun. (Max Pixel/Free Use)
August 06, 2018

Over the weekend, a shooter was stopped at a local back-to-school event at a Titusville, Florida Park thanks to an armed bystander.

After a fistfight broke out at the event, an individual returned to the park with a firearm and opened fire just after 5:20 p.m., WFTV reported.

The event was live-streamed by Dwight Harvey, a family member of the event’s organizer. The video shows children and parents looking through backpacks filled with school supplies. Suddenly, 12 gunshots were heard, sending the crowd scattering.

A bystander at the event withdrew their own firearm and returned fire on the shooter. The bystander was licensed to carry the firearm, and was said to have fully cooperated with law enforcement’s investigation.

The shooter received life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to a local hospital. His condition is unknown.

“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.”

Ironically, the event was titled, “Peace in the City.” A flyer posted to social media featured the tagline “A day of fun. No violence!”

More than 100 people were estimated to be at the event. Other than injuries to the shooter, no other injuries were reported.

“We were just trying to do something positive for the community,” Harvey said. He said the event was planned in memory of his cousin, Tony Butler, who was discovered dead inside in a burning car last month.

Harvey recalled the scene at the event, saying: “I was like, who lit firecrackers? I turned around and just said, ‘Oh no, he’s got a gun, he’s got a gun,’” Florida Today reported.

“I thought to myself, ‘did this just happen?’ People were taking cover, everybody was scattered,” he said. He added that he was thankful for the bystander who quickly put a stop to a situation that could’ve been deadly.

“This was standing your ground, in a situation like this with kids involved,” he said.

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law permits citizens to use deadly force to prevent imminent harm or death to themselves or others, without retreating, as long as the citizen is not engaged in an illegal activity.

After a preliminary investigation and coordinating with the State Attorney’s Office, detectives said no charges are anticipated against the bystander since he was licensed, and his actions were deemed legal.

The identities of the shooter and the bystander have not yet been released.