TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw wants to send a message that Ybor City is safe and visitors should not be deterred by the deadly mass shooting one week ago.
Tampa Police officers, along with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputies and Florida Highway Patrol Troopers, were out in full force Saturday night.
“You’ll expect to see officers on foot patrol, on bicycle, on horse, and in cars,” Chief Bercaw said.
Around 100 Tampa police officers were patrolling the historic district throughout the weekend.
Chief Bercaw said they conducted 210 traffic stops, made 17 misdemeanor arrests and 11 felony arrests.
He and his officers also recovered a gun.
Tampa City Council Chairman Guido Maniscalco joined the Chief as he met with community members and walked down 7th Avenue.
“Their presence is known and I think it brings a sense of calm,” Maniscalco said.
Some 50 officers were already in the area when police said a total of 17 people were shot during the busy Halloween weekend.
While 22-year-old Tyrell Phillips has been charged with second-degree murder, Chief Bercaw said the search continues for additional suspects who fired gunshots.
“Detectives have some really good promising leads” he said. “We’re hoping to give y’all some updates really soon, but those leads are from the great work that the community is providing us with videos and with tips.”
Family members identified 20-year-old Harrison Boonstoppel and 14-year-old Elijah Wilson as the two victims who were killed.
“Meeting with the victim’s families is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do,” Chief Bercaw said. “We’re not gonna forget them and their lives are never gonna be the same, but on the same token, Ybor is safe. That was an isolated incident that was a one-off fight that turned into a gunfight in seconds.”
This week Ybor business owners pushed back against a proposal that Tampa City Council ultimately rejected to shut down bars and clubs at 1 a.m.
“You don’t want to blame the business owner,” Maniscalco said. “They’re here and the reason they’re open til these late hours that’s when they’re busiest and that’s where they generate the most profit and stuff. Don’t punish them.”
The city council is now considering a juvenile curfew in Ybor, as bar owners argued underage people loitering in the streets are to blame for many of their problems.
“There’s no reason to be out late at that age, just in general,” Maniscalco said.
Chief Bercaw said Tampa Police will host a town hall later this month with Ybor business owners and residents to seek feedback on what’s best for the historic district moving forward.