Friday night chaos at Florida State Fair - WFLA News Channel 8

Friday night chaos at Florida State Fair

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Groups of teens gathered at Florida State Fair on Friday night. Groups of teens gathered at Florida State Fair on Friday night.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is calling it "a wilding."

Witnesses at the Florida State Fair on Friday night say groups of teens were running out of control, stealing whatever they wanted, getting into fights, and knocking over innocent bystanders.

David Donohue says he went to the fair with his 8-year-old and 9-year-old sons.

"Just looking for a good day for the kids. I thought it was children's day at the fair," said Donohue.

As the sun went down, Donohue says he noticed a change in the crowd.

"You could see something was brewing,” said Donohue.

Then as he stood with his sons on the midway, a crowd of teens ran by, and his son was knocked over.

"You could see a little rush coming and I was blown up back against one of the vendors over there and my son caught an elbow right on his temple and was flattened, and then they ran over him," said Donohue.

As he tried to leave the area, Donohue says he feared for his family.

"My kids are running and screaming after this. They're scared for their life. They're telling me, ‘dad, dad are we going to be killed.’ I'm like ‘no, we're going to be alright,’ but they are scared to death," said Donohue.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's office says they called in 60 extra deputies that night from the surrounding area.

"There was a strong presence from the Sheriff's Office out there, but we were tapped to our limits," said Colonel Jim Previtera with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Even the extra deputies were overwhelmed.

"We literally had deputies who were out there with no back up engaged in fights. We had at least one deputy who was attacked by multiple youth as he tried to arrest somebody,” said Colonel Previtera. “We had deputies who were targeted. They were taking candy apples from the concession stands and throwing them at the deputies like baseballs."

Colonel Previtera says there have been meetings all weekend with Fair Officials to consider changes so this will not happen again.


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