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161 arrested, 75 guns seized after violent Spring Break mob hits Panama City

Police car lights (Dreamstime/TNS)
March 30, 2022

Police arrested 161 people and seized 75 illegal firearms in Panama City Beach, Fla., over the weekend after a mob of violent suspects wreaked havoc in the popular Spring Break destination and beachside community.

A number of local businesses closed early on Saturday as the mob descended on the city, forcing law enforcement to respond to the area for crowd control, WMBB reported.

Police Chief J.R. Talamantez confirmed that the violent group stormed the city’s Walmart, and video of the scene shows dozens of youths running through the store as they throw shelves, hats, sunscreen and other merchandise on the ground.

“Watch: Rowdy Crowds Disrupt Businesses and Traffic (Walmart Panama City Beach),” one Twitter user posted.

“We were getting run over by people,” said tourist Ladariya Gurley. “They were pushing us.”

Talamantez said the rowdy group was “acting a fool,” and while nothing violent occurred on Saturday, one person was shot in the foot the following day.

“I personally encountered an individual holding an AR-15 who is now in custody,” Talamantez said.

During a press conference on Sunday to address the chaotic weekend, Talamantez said the group’s conduct was “unacceptable.”

“The blatant disregard for public safety that these individuals are having will not be tolerated. What we saw this past weekend is absolutely unacceptable. Period,” he said. “The crowd that has been here this weekend, there is no words that can describe the way they have behaved themselves, conducted themselves, and the amount of laws they have broken.”

A Twitter post by the Florida Highway Patrol showed law enforcement officers at the press conference standing in front of the guns that were seized.

Talamantez said at least one officer was injured while responding to the mob – he was cut in the head when someone threw a beer bottle at him.  

“These are the type of individuals that we’re facing. Throwing beer bottles at police officers. Shooting right down the road. There were blue lights up and down the road as these shootings took place. The blatant disregard for public safety that these individuals are having will not be tolerated,” the Panama City chief said.

The city’s mayor said those detained and discovered with illegal firearms were not like the majority of spring breakers, but instead were violent criminal looking to take advantage of the large crowds.

“This was not spring breakers, so trust me when I tell you, this is just a bad element of people who did this,” said Mayor Mark Sheldon. “If you want to come here and be a bad person, you picked the wrong place. Panama City Beach is a family destination, and that’s not going to change.”