Arrest made in Halloween weekend’s fatal shooting of 2 in Tampa; 18 more victims injured

Tampa police officers on Sunday stand in the street in the Ybor City section of Tampa, Fla., after a shooting. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

TAMPA, Fla. — A man has been arrested in Tampa, Florida, in a mass shooting that erupted during Halloween festivities early Sunday. Two people were killed and 18 injured, police said.

At least two shooters opened fire just before 3 a.m. in the Ybor City area, Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw said during a news conference at the scene. Later Sunday he said detectives arrested Tyrell Stephen Phillips, 22, in connection with the shooting. He was charged with second-degree murder with a firearm.

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“My heart goes out to the families,” Bercaw said in a news briefing posted online. He called the gun violence “extremely tragic” and said police would not tolerate it.

Earlier, authorities said one suspect was in custody and at least one other was being sought, but Bercaw did not immediately say Sunday afternoon whether police were seeking anyone else after Phillips’ arrest.

“We make arrests quickly,” Bercaw said in the briefing. “We have a sense of urgency and if you are going to be out there with a gun, you are going to pay for it.”

It was not immediately known if Phillips had an attorney, and he remained jailed pending an initial court appearance Monday, according to officials and local reports.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, a former city police chief, lamented that Tampa was the focus of national attention for “yet another shooting in our country.”

“We’ve got to say, as a country, that enough is enough,” she said.

The early morning fight occurred in an area with several bars and clubs that was once the center of Tampa’s cigar industry. In more recent years, the area has been known for its lively nightlife, and Tampa police spokeswoman Jonee Lewis said “hundreds” of people were on the streets at the time of Sunday’s shootings because numerous nightspots had just closed.

Police had not released the names of those killed, but Emmitt Wilson said his 14-year-old son, Elijah, was one of the fatalities. Wilson came to the scene Sunday after getting a call that his son was a victim.

“It’s madness to me. I don’t even feel like I’m here right now,” Wilson said. “I hope the investigators do their job.”

Video posted online shows people, many in Halloween costumes, drinking and talking on the street when about a dozen shots ring out followed seconds later by about eight more. A stampede ensued, with some people toppling over metal tables and taking cover behind them. Video from the aftermath shows police officers treating several people lying wounded on the ground.

“It was a disturbance or a fight between two groups. And in this fight between two groups we had hundreds of innocent people involved that were in the way,” Bercaw said.

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