SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A 15-year-old boy has been charged with three felonies following a shooting at the Sarasota County Fair Saturday night.
Police said the shooting happened just before 10 p.m. after the suspect and an 18-year-old got into an argument. Police said the suspect shot the 18-year-old, who was then transported to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital for surgery. He is now reportedly in stable condition.
The police department said the two teenagers knew each other, and there was no evidence that it was ever an active shooter situation.
“I couldn’t believe it. Fairs are supposed to be a fun time,” said fairgoer Leonard Yoder. “How did he get a gun? That is my question,” he continued.
Further investigation revealed that additional shots were fired in the parking lot after the initial shooting incident. Detectives said this was an unrelated incident where someone fired a gun into the air.
“These detectives have been working diligently around the clock, 24 hours a day since this shooting occurred on Saturday night to bring a resolution to this case,” said Sarasota Police spokesperson Genevieve Judge.
The fair will remain open through March 28 as scheduled, but additional security measures will now be in place. A private security company contracted by the Sarasota County Fair Board will now be searching handbags and using wands on guests prior to them entering the fairgrounds, a release from SPD said.
Fair director Randy Boyd tells 8 On Your Side with the changes made over the weekend, organizers are as confident as they can be when it comes to security.
“We were really focused on COVID and making sure that we were COVID-compliant. We were working extremely hard to do that,” said Boyd. “We put security at each gate. We thought with signs saying ‘no weapons allowed’ and we thought at that time we had done an adequate job, which we now know that we needed to do more,” he continued.
Extra officers will be on patrol at the fairgrounds and will “take a more proactive role in the execution of the security plans for the Sarasota County Fair for [the] duration of the event,” police say.
If you or anyone you know has video or information on the situation, please call the Sarasota Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 941-263-6070.