‘Mass Chaos’ as Shooting at MLK Day Event Sees Eight Gunned Down: Police

A mass shooting at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Florida has left at least eight people hospitalized.

Shots were fired during what was billed as an “MLK Car Show & Family Fun Day” at Fort Pierce’s Ilous Ellis Park on Monday night. Police said that at least eight people were struck by bullets and later sent to a hospital for treatment, with one person in critical condition.

Additional victims were injured after being “trampled” by the panicked crowd. All of those injured are expected to survive, according to local news station WPBF.

“Right now we have eight people that we know of that are at the hospital that were shot,” St. Lucie County Chief Deputy Brian Hester told reporters. “We had another two individuals that were injured during the accident, just kind of during the melee afterward…hit by [a] car or trampled by the crowd as people were just scattering everywhere.”

Hester described the scene as “very chaotic” when the shooting began at around 5:20 p.m., with attendees “running in all different directions.” Despite the chaos, first responders and other attendees were able to provide aid for the victims shortly after the shooting took place.

“It was mass chaos as you can imagine when shots rang out,” Hester said. “There were a thousand-plus people here at the event. And as the shots rang out, people were just running in all directions…There were people laying behind cars, laying behind anything they could lay behind.

“It was kind of hard to tell who was a victim and who was just hiding at that point. But our deputies did start to render aid on multiple people. There were people in the crowd that were rendering aid as well,” he said.

No suspects had been apprehended in connection with the shooting at the time of publication, although Hester said that police were busy following up on “tips from the community” and detectives were looking into multiple leads.

Hester said that police “know” of one suspect but believe that there are additional shooters based on evidence gathered at the crime scene, adding that “there were two different areas where shots were fired within the event.”

He went on to express his disappointment that the shooting took place during an event celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., who famously spoke out against violence while advocating for civil rights.

“It’s really sad on a day that we’re celebrating a leader…who was about peace,” Hester said. “It’s sad that during the celebration of someone who represented peace and equality, that a disagreement results in the use of guns and violence to solve that disagreement.”

A spokesperson for the City of Fort Pierce made similar remarks in a statement obtained by Newsweek.

“The City of Fort Pierce extends its thoughts and prayers to the families that were impacted by the shooting incident. Tragically, this incident occurred on a day when our community gathered to pay tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who dedicated his life to peacefully advancing human rights and equality.”

Newsweek has reached out to the St. Lucie Sheriff’s Department for additional comment.

Update 1/17, 5:41 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include a statement from the City of Fort Pierce.

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