TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Winter Haven police are investigating a shooting that left one person dead and two others injured on July 4.
Officers responded to a report of shots fired in an empty lot along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between 2nd Street Northeast and 5th Street Northeast on Monday evening just before midnight.
A large crowd had gathered in the area for an impromptu Fourth of July block party before shots rang out. Fireworks were reportedly going off at the same time as the gunfire.
James Gore, a Vietnam veteran, and his wife were walking over to watch the fireworks when they heard the shots.
“She walked over to where the fireworks were and immediately we heard a poof, then [gunshot noises] and I told her come on back, come on back, because them are gunshots,” said Gore.
In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Winter Haven Public Safety Director Charlie Bird said a man was found with gunshot wounds and was rushed to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. Two other men were shot and hospitalized, but they are expected to recover.
“We’re going to do everything we can as an agency to put those responsible behind bars where they belong,” Bird said. “For taking a celebration of our country and turning it into a sad event for those involved and their families.”
Winter Haven Police Chief, David Branden, told reporters that the shooting appears to be an isolated incident and there is no enhanced risk to the public.
“We really need the public’s help to gather some leads and bring closure to this sad situation,” said Winter Haven Police Captain Donald Nunnary.
Police urge anyone with information about the shooting to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226 TIPS (8477) or submit a tip through heartlandcrimestoppers.com. A $5,000 reward has been offered to anyone who can provide information leading to an arrest.