ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A St. Petersburg community is outraged after a weekend boxing match erupted into gunfire over the weekend. It happened Saturday night behind the Skyway Plaza on 62nd Avenue South.
A spokesperson with the Neighborhood Boxing League in Tampa told 8 On Your Side the event, ‘Guns Down, Gloves Up’, is an effort to stop gun violence.
Corey Givens Jr, a St. Petersburg activist, said he appreciates the group’s intent, but this is not the solution. “What’s not conducive is when folks from outside of this community come into our community to stir up violence. That is not helpful to anything or anyone.”
Givens said he was saddened to hear another life was taken due to gun violence.
“There’s a lot of questions and a lot of grey area. First of all who permitted such an event like this to take place. I don’t think that a boxing ring at a public shopping plaza at 8 o’clock at night is the answer to combating violence,” Givens said.
St. Pete Police surrounded the Skyway Plaza for hours Saturday night, following the boxing match. Authorities said around 200 people attended the event. Josh Williams lives nearby. He said he stopped by the event 20 minutes before the gunfire.
“You could see people dropping behind you. I was just hoping that I wasn’t the one going to get shot,” Givens said.
Police said 21-year-old Trevon Barton was shot and later died at the hospital. Four others were treated for injuries. Authorities arrested one person so far, 21-year-old Robert Cooley. He’s charged with carrying a concealed firearm and discharging a firearm in public.
“We still have to do some homework and find out how the boxing match was put on, what permits they had, promoters, etc. It’s too early to tell. We’re more concerned with the shooting investigation and the victims that we have,” said Yolanda Fernandez, PIO for St. Pete Police.
The public is encouraged to contact them if you have any information connected to the shooting and the boxing match.