JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Jan 17 2017- One teenage boy died and another was injured in a shooting Monday afternoon just outside the Jacksonville Landing downtown, authorities said.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office identified Khamoi Petersen, 16, as the teen who died. The 13-year-old victim, whose name has not been released, suffered non life-threatening injuries, according to police.
The double shooting could possibly be related to another double shooting earlier this month at the nearby Art Walk, in which one of the teenage victims ran to the Landing for help, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Just after 4 p.m., two off-duty officers employed by the Landing responded to gunfire immediately outside the front of the Landing on Water Street, said JSO Assistant Chief Scott Dingee.
That's where the officers said they found two teenagers with gunshot wounds.
Both boys were taken to an area hospital
According to investigators, it appeared that a fight escalated into gunfire, which shattered a glass door at the front of the Landing.
"There appears to be some kind of confrontation of a group of individuals outside the Landing," Dingee said. "The incident, based on some of the individuals that we know were involved, was possibly related to the Art Walk shooting."
Dingee said a handgun was recovered from the scene, and several people were detained for questioning, but no arrests have been made.
As of Monday night, investigators were still collecting surveillance video from surrounding businesses and interviewing at least 30 witnesses.
Sleiman Enterprises, the owner of the Landing, issued the following statement:
"The incident that occurred on city property outside of the Landing today saddens us. This is an ongoing investigation by Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, therefore we cannot comment any further."
Dingee said they do not believe the shooting was related to the city's annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. parade, which ended at 2 p.m., or the continuing celebration that followed at Hemming Park.
Anyone with information or tips is asked to call JSO at 904-630-0500. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
Witnesses describe 'utter pandemonium' as gunshots rang out
A day that began celebrating the life of a man who preached nonviolence ended with two teenagers shot during a time when there was a lot of foot traffic at the Jacksonville Landing.
Many people were forced to halt their celebrations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day when the gunshots rang out. Witnesses said bullets were flying everywhere and people were ducking for cover.
A witness inside the Landing posted on Facebook that a shooter pulled out a gun and "opened fire on us" with five to 10 rounds. Another witness said he saw two shooters jump into a white car and head toward the Main Street Bridge.
Rudy Hinton said he was near the two teens, who were asking a security officer for help, right before the shots were fired and everyone in the line of sight became a potential target.
"JSO was interviewing two young men. They were telling him that it was about to go down. The boy asked for protection and they said sure, so I stood there and the next thing, 'Pop, pop, pop.' Everybody went running," Hinton said. "They shot at the officer and everybody standing around. They were shooting to kill."
Despite Hinton's version of events, JSO has yet to confirm whether or not the boys were seeking protection from the shooters.
Another witness told News4Jax that he had been coming off the Riverwalk and heard what he thought were fireworks going off.
"I get around the corner, and all these young people are running around and screaming and the guy's laying on the ground bleeding. The cops were over him and he’s not moving," Ronald Wallace said. "They were saying, 'He’s dead,' and screaming that another victim is inside the building.”
Wallace said he was glad he wasn't hit by the gunfire.
"I was right there. It could have been me if a stray bullet would have come my way," Wallace said. "I was flabbergasted. First time I've been close to something like that. It's real messed up."
Daniel Griffin, who works at the Landing, said he and some other chefs had been outside smoking cigarettes when they heard the gunfire.
"Utter pandemonium," he said. "You heard at least maybe 20 shots. It sounded like two, maybe an automatic. Definitely wasn't one person firing. It was bad. Everybody scattered and took off running. We knew pretty much at first what it was."
Krista Chestnut, 13, was dining at Hooters with her 17-year-old brother, Keron Chestnut, and other friends at the time of the shooting. She described the unsettling experience as patrons were told to stay inside.
"It's a shooting. I'm going to be scared. I don't know if they're going to come over here," she said.
The double shooting not only frightened those at the Landing, but also sparked anger among many community members like T. Greedy, who said he was offended by the shooters' reckless behavior and disregard for the national holiday.
"MLK -- this is not what he wanted," Greedy said. "Disrespect to the city and to Martin Luther King. That’s not right. Period. Point blank. By no right should a man have a gun down here. Period. You shouldn’t have a gun down here, at all."
The Sheriff's Office continues to investigate.