CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) — Gunshots rang out inside a popular store in Clearwater Beach on Tuesday night, at the beginning of spring break season. Police believe the victim, who died from his injuries, was targeted.
“We heard gunshots from our apartment then we saw the police drive by,” said Delaney Nagel, spring breaker from Iowa. “We’re definitely going to stay in groups we don’t go out alone or anything, but once it starts getting dark will be in the room for the night.”
Clearwater police said a fight escalated on the second floor of Surf Style when someone pulled out a gun and shot 22-year-old Rodney Sweeney of Largo. Authorities said Sweeney died at the hospital.
“We’ve had some calls, nothing like this but we do have additional manpower out here right now to address spring break problems but nothing like this,” said Deputy Chief Michael Walek.
Police Chief Daniel Slaughter wants to make sure everyone feels safe when they come to the beach, or anywhere in Clearwater. He said there will be an increase in officers patrolling the area following the shooting.
“Many of our detectives and officers are working non-stop to find the killer and hold him accountable,” said Chief Slaughter. “Detectives have interviewed dozens of witnesses and leveraged the technology investments made to ensure people who commit senseless violence are captured and prosecuted.”
Clearwater police said 20-year-old Johnathan Stanley was arrested on a second-degree murder charge in connection to the shooting. He was taken into custody at the Clearwater Mall on Wednesday evening.
“It’s definitely a place that I probably wouldn’t want to come back to spring break two just because there was a shooting the other night too,” Nagel added.
Nagel was referring to another shooting that occurred down the street from Surf Style on Sunday. Clearwater Police said a group of kids were involved in a fight, and someone pulled out a gun and fired a shot at the ground. No one was hurt.