By TERRY SPENCER
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — Police launched a search Tuesday for three suspects they believe to be the gunmen who opened fire along a crowded Florida beachside promenade on Memorial Day, wounding a 1-year-old and eight others while sending people frantically running for cover.
Hollywood police sought the public’s help in identifying the gunmen, who ran from the scene during the chaos of hundreds of people fleeing for their lives and diving for cover as shots hit bystanders.
Two people involved in the altercation that led to the shooting — Morgan Deslouches and Keshawn Stewart, both 18 — have been arrested on firearms charges, police said. Five handguns have been recovered, with one of them reported stolen in the Miami area and another in Texas, they said.
Police and witnesses said the shooting began as a group of people fought in front of a busy stretch of shops on the Hollywood Oceanfront Broadwalk about 7 p.m. Monday.
The sound of gunshots sent witness Alvie Carlton Scott III ducking for cover behind a tree before he fled on foot at the command of a police officer. Another witness, Jamie Ward, said several young men were fighting when one of them pulled a gun and started firing.
One witness told police that she recognized a group of young men in the area later Monday as being involved in the shooting, according to an arrest report. When an officer approached the group, he noticed one of the men, later identified as Deslouches, trying to hide a black backpack. The officer reported that he ordered the man to sit and then took the man’s bag. Inside, the officer found a 9mm handgun loaded with seven rounds, the report said.
Meanwhile, a detective was transporting witnesses to be interviewed when he spotted Stewart walking down a street, an arrest report said. Earlier, a witness had taken photos and video of Stewart and one of the shooting suspects. The witness told police the shooting suspect had given Stewart a gun. When the detective stopped and searched Stewart, the detective reported finding a fully loaded 9mm handgun in Stewart’s backpack.
The shooting upended busy holiday weekend festivities at the popular beach destination where there was already a heavy police presence to oversee the big crowds.
Police spokesperson Deanna Bettineschi said four children between the ages of 1 and 17 were hit, along with five adults between 25 and 65. Six of those shot remain hospitalized in stable condition, while three have been released, police said.
The names of those wounded have not been released.
Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy said that he was “deeply saddened and angered” by the shooting. Dozens of officers are assigned to the beach on busy holiday weekends and that meant there was an immediate response and multiple people were detained, Levy said in a statement.
“People come to enjoy a holiday weekend on the beach with their families and to have people in complete reckless disregard of the safety of the public and to have an altercation with guns in a public setting with thousands of people around them is beyond reckless,” he said.
Videos posted Monday evening on Twitter showed emergency medical crews responding and providing aid to multiple injured people.
Hollywood Beach is a popular beach destination about 11 miles (17 kilometers) south of Fort Lauderdale and 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Miami. The beach was expected to see more visitors than usual because of the Memorial Day holiday.
Deslouches is charged with grand theft of a firearm, carrying a concealed firearm and removing serial numbers from a firearm. He’s being held on $20,000 bail.
Stewart is charged with carrying a concealed firearm and was being held on $15,000 bail.
Jail records didn’t list attorneys for Deslouches or Stewart.