TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The suspect arrested and charged with second-degree murder in connection to the deadly shooting early Sunday morning in Ybor City is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Monday, according to the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office.
Police said two people were killed on 7th Avenue after an altercation between two groups escalated into gunfire around 2:45 a.m.
Five of the 16 other victims injured during the shooting in the busy nightlife area of Ybor City were still hospitalized late Sunday afternoon. 15 of them suffered gunshot wounds.
“I want you to know that what happened is completely unacceptable and the Tampa Police Department is not going to tolerate it,” Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw said.
Chief Bercaw said video evidence and assistance from the public helped police quickly arrest 22-year-old Tyrell Phillips.
“He gave a statement which was conflicting to evidence brought forth by witnesses and community members,” Chief Bercaw said, “which led to us being able to charge him.”
University of Tampa student Nikolai Weingart and a friend visiting from out of town were among the hundreds of panicked people who ran for cover as police officers rushed to help the shooting victims.
“It’s not just the victims,” Weingart said, “everyone here kind of experienced something that is very traumatizing. Everyone’s having a good time for Halloween then it turns into something horrible.”
Police said about 50 officers were on patrol in the busy nightlife area of Ybor City.
“There were a lot of police out last night,” Weingart said, “so I’m sure everyone felt a sense of security.”
But when the bullets started flying, that sense of security during Halloween weekend was shattered, like the glass windows at Nicihabana Cigars.
“The bullet goes all the way through,” owner Yordany Ogando said. “All the way to the couch over there.”
Chief Lee Bercaw said he spoke with the families of the 14-year-old boy and the 20-year-old man who were killed in the mass shooting.
“This is extremely tragic,” he said, “but the families all told me they’re so appreciative of work of the police and they want justice and they’re appreciative of community coming forward and providing the tips.”
Hillsborough County’s State Attorney Suzy Lopez stood next to the police chief as he announced the arrest of Phillips.
“We will assist in the investigation and stand ready to vigorously prosecute anyone who resorts to senseless gun violence,” Lopez said.
There were multiple mass shootings across the country during Halloween weekend celebrations.
In Texarkana, Texas, three people were killed and three other victims were injured during a shooting in a party room at a business.
In Indianapolis, one woman was killed and eight others were shot during a large party, while 15 people were shot at a Halloween party in Chicago.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor weighed in on the search for solutions to stop the gun violence hurting communities across the country.
“The vast majority of Americans support responsible firearm ownership,” she said during the Sunday afternoon news conference. “They also support reasonable regulations.”
Robert Riordan has lived in Ybor City for more than two years.
“You can’t stop a criminal from buying a gun,” he said.
Riordan said the pizza shop where he works on 7th Avenue immediately shut its doors as the mob of people ran from the shots fired.
“I can’t even figure out what to make of it, to be honest,” he said. “It’s frightening.”
Chief Bercaw said one of the two guns officers recovered from the scene was stolen.
The investigation continues as police try to figure out what exactly led to the deadly gunfire and they are working to identify and arrest any additional shooters.