Armed Bystander Thwarts Shooting at Florida Back-to-School Picnic

armed bystander shooting picnicA legally armed bystander stopped a potential massacre at a back-to-school picnic in a Florida park on Saturday, shooting a gunman who had returned to the park for revenge after engaging in a fistfight there earlier in the day.

The gunman, who was airlifted to a local hospital in critical condition following the shooting, was the only one of more than 100 picnic attendees to sustain any injuries. The bystander, a vendor operating at the picnic, was licensed to carry a concealed weapon.

“We are extremely grateful that nobody else was injured in this incident,” Titusville deputy police chief Todd Hutchinson said in a statement. “This suspect opened fire at a crowded public park. This could have been so much worse.”

Dwight Harvey, a local DJ who organized the community event, described the incident to Florida Today.

“I was like, who lit firecrackers? I turned around and just said, ‘Oh no, he’s got a gun, he’s got a gun,’” Harvey said. “I thought to myself, ‘Did this just happen?’ People were taking cover, everybody was scattered.”

Harvey then juxtaposed the incident with the high-profile shooting of an unarmed black man in a Florida parking lot earlier this month, suggesting deadly force was justified in the former but not the latter.

“This was standing your ground, in a situation like this with kids involved. Not what you saw in Clearwater — that was murder,” Harvey said, referring to the parking-lot shooting. The gunman in that shooting was not arrested, prompting harsh criticism from Republican lawmakers and NRA representatives, who claim the local sheriff’s use of Florida’s “stand your ground” law to justify his inaction constituted a misinterpretation of the relevant statutes.

Local police have not yet announced whether the armed vendor will face charges for firing on the aggressor in this weekend’s case, but it seems unlikely as state law provides broad protection for armed individuals who use deadly force in the face of a grave, imminent threat.

Reprinted with permission from - National Review - by Jack Crowe

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