Daytona Beach police struggled this Memorial Day weekend as huge crowds gathered, partied and danced while ignoring social distancing restrictions.
Authorities had a hard time dispersing the crowd who went to an annual gathering that took place along a beachside road despite the local government not authorizing the event.
As the party went wild, fights broke out and the police received reports of a shooting outside a nearby convenience store, wherein two people were taken to the hospital for gunshot wounds while four were injured by shrapnel.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said at a Sunday news conference, “We got slammed. Disney is closed, Universal is closed. Everything is closed so where did everybody come with the first warm day with 50% opening? Everybody came to the beach.”
Helicopter images were released by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office that shows how large the crowds were during Memorial Day weekend.
Some were seen surrounding a car outside a beachfront mall as a man stood on the sunroof and other men hung out the windows throwing money around and blocking traffic.
Chitwood and Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri stood up to criticism taken by the police officers in dispersing crowds, claiming that people complied with the orders to leave and that no businesses received damage.
Authorities received criticisms about their method on handling crowds who violated social distancing regulations, by declining to use force or make arrests.
“I know people were upset with the numbers of crowds there. I am a little pissed off, too, about a lot of this. We don’t take this lightly,” Capri told interviewers. “We got the coronavirus still going around and people not practicing social distancing. But I am not the social distancing police. It’s not my job.”
Meanwhile, Sheriff Chitwood believes breaking those rules could be realistically enforced with arrests.
“If someone out there wants to ask a stupid social distancing question, social distancing is not a crime. It’s an executive order issued by the governor that no prosecutor in the state of Florida has prosecuted anybody for that, and no judge is going to convict them,” Chitwood said.