An armed bystander shot a man who opened fire at a back-to-school picnic in Titusville, Florida earlier this week. The shooting occurred at Isaac Campbell Park in Titusville. At the park, children and families were participating in a back-to-school rally. Estimates published by the City of Titusville place around 150 people at the park at the time of the incident, mostly children.
The bystander was lawfully carrying a firearm, according to a news release from the City of Titusville. He is not expected to be charged with a crime, “as his actions were within the law based on the preliminary investigation,” officials said in the news release.
Florida is known for having some of the broadest gun laws in the country. The “stand your ground” law allows bystanders to use “deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
According to the news release, the shooter was possibly involved in a fistfight at the park before he left and returned with a gun. He was injured and taken to a local hospital. The bystander is cooperating with police as part of the ongoing investigation.
Isaac Campbell Park shooting scene secure. One male victim airlifted to local hospital with life-threatening injuries. Titusville Police Detectives on scene conducting ongoing active investigation. pic.twitter.com/ytDfB5AVfd
— Titusville Police FL (@TitusvillePD) August 4, 2018
Neither the bystander nor the alleged shooter have been identified in the press.
“We are extremely grateful that nobody else was injured in this incident,” said Titusville Police Deputy Chief Todd Hutchinson. In a world where mass shootings are part of the morning headlines all too frequently, officials in Titusville are thankful that the incident did not have a more traumatic outcome.
“This suspect opened fire at a crowded public park, this could have been so much worse,” said Hutchinson. The rally was attended by numerous school-aged children, as they prepared to return to school for the 2018-2019 school year later in the week.
The City of Titusville is providing counseling for those who witnessed or were impacted by the incident.
Students all around the Titusville area returned to school this week as scheduled. Due to the quick actions of the armed bystander, they are all able to safely resume their studies for the new school year.
The DJ connected to the event organizers was live streaming the rally on social media when the incident occurred.
“I thought to myself, ‘did this just happen?’ People were taking cover, everybody was scattered,” said Dwight Harvey of D Harv Productions in an interview with Florida Today. He later used his DJ equipment and microphone to reunite children with their grandmother.
“My heart just sank. I called out their names. I was just hoping no one was injured,” he said. “Please don’t let it be anyone I know. Thank God none of the kids got hit, but this could have been a lot worse.”
The investigation remains ongoing but those at the park and around the nation can be grateful that a lawful bystander acted quickly and bravely to prevent further tragedy.