Woman Dies, 11 Others Injured After MLK Day Shooting

One woman is dead, and 11 others are injured after a gang-related mass shooting at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration on Monday. The woman who died, Nikkitia Bryant, was a 29-year-old cosmetologist attending the event with her nine-year-old daughter. According to the St. Lucie County sheriff’s office, she succumbed to her injuries Tuesday morning. “Now what was a shooting investigation has turned into a murder investigation,” Sheriff Ken Mascara stated at a news conference.

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More than 1,000 people were in attendance at Ilous Ellis Park in Fort Pierce when chaos erupted. The event, a car show, was planned as the final act in a week of festivities celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

The first shots were fired at around 5:30 pm. Eight partygoers were wounded by the gunfire and brought to HCA Florida Lanwood Hospital after. Four more sustained injuries while trying to flee the chaotic scene. According to Chief Deputy Brian Hester, evidence points towards the shooting being “the result of a dispute between two rival Fort Pierce gangs.”

The sheriff’s office reported that they had recovered 50 spent shell casings of three different calibers from the crime scene. According to Treasure Coast Newspapers, police continued to search the scene on Tuesday, assisted by at least two canine units. It is unclear how many gunmen took part in the shooting. Police have not yet identified any suspects.

“Let me be very, very clear that if you are thinking of or are hiding, supporting or aiding, helping in any way, any suspect, anyone involved in this heinous incident, I can assure you that we will arrest you and we will charge you to the fullest extent of the law for partaking in that support.”
– Chief Deputy Brian Hester, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Department

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Community members gathered Tuesday evening to hold a vigil for Nikkitia Bryant. Around 20 people gathered to hold candles, sing, and pray, according to reporting by 25 WPBF News. Bryant’s brother reportedly told the station,

“There’s no way I can explain that. She just experienced some real deal stuff. That’s tough man.”

A $5,000 reward is being offered by the Florida Sheriff’s Association for information leading to an arrest.
The City of Fort Pierce is asking anyone with information to call Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-8477.

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