PANAMA CITY BEACH – Local law enforcement officials say they will not tolerate tourists who bring crime to the Beach.
In a press conference on Sunday afternoon, Chief JR Talamantez of the Panama City Beach Police Department, Chief Mark Smith of the Panama City Police Department and Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford announced that one person had sustained non-life-threatening injuries in a shooting that day near the Waffle House on Front Beach Road.
The victim, an unnamed 21-year-old from Alabama, was shot in the foot.
“We’re here today because people who have absolutely no respect for the law, or themselves for a matter of fact, have converged onto this beach,” Talamantez said.
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He also said officers found “several” people with guns at the scene of the shooting.
“I personally encountered an individual holding an AR-15 who is now in custody,” Talamantez said. “We currently have three suspects (from) this incident detained at the police department being questioned.
“… The crowd that has been here this weekend – there is no words that can describe the way they have behaved themselves, conducted themselves and the amount of laws they have broken,” he added. “We are doing the best to manage this situation.”
As of about 7 pm Sunday, portions of Front Beach Road near where the shooting occurred were closed.
Ford noted that officers had confiscated about 50 to 60 guns over the weekend in Bay County.
“This community has been through this before, (and) this community has decided that this is not what we want,” he said. “We have fought these battles, won these battles, and we’re not going to let it happen again. We’re going to do everything in our power to stop that.
According to Smith, the owners of many local night clubs have chosen to close their establishments on Sunday night in response to the crime-ridden groups of spring breakers in the Panama City Beach area.
“We’re not going to allow people to come into our community and try to take over the community,” he said. “This is a place where people can come and bring their families and enjoy their time. They should not have to worry about all the gun activity that’s going on out here.”