TAMPA, Fla — Following the shooting deaths of two people at separate locations on Monday, the Tampa Police Department is releasing more information about what happened.
Not only did the shootings claim the lives of two, but three people were also hurt by the gunfire.
“These were not random incidents, and I’m here to say today that this cannot continue," Police Chief Mary O'Connor said Tuesday.
Police believe the shooting that happened at around 1:43 p.m. near East Columbus Drive and north Avenida Republica de Cuba (14th Street) stemmed from a group argument. A 24-year-old and a 15-year-old were armed, police say, which resulted in the death of a 21-year-old and a 15-year-old being hospitalized with a gunshot wound.
Less than two hours later, police responded to the area of North 35th and east Chelsea streets on a report of a second shooting where a man was taken to the hospital and later died.
The two shootings happened about 2.5 miles apart, although it remains unknown whether the shootings are related or not.
"Anybody illegally possessing a gun in the city of Tampa this summer will be arrested," Chief O'Connor said.
Police say both shootings Monday started because of an argument. Across the bay, the same story is familiar to St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway.
"Every day I wake up looking at paper watching the news and say, 'Okay, that happened across the bay. When is that going to happen in St. Pete?'" he said.
Last year, St. Petersburg police officers investigated 33 homicides and solved 31 of them.
"The argument is just, it's easy just to pick up a gun and say, you know what, I'm going to solve this problem, I'm going to shoot you, or I'm gonna kill you," Holloway said.
He said the uptick started during the summer until they started getting into the community to figure out where the guns were coming from.
"A lot of our guns were coming from people that were leaving their cars unlocked," Chief Holloway said.
That and community policing helped the city's numbers decrease. Come 2022, just eight homicides have happened year to date. Police say seven people were killed by bullets.
"We've got to figure out what's going on with our world because we don't have to argue anymore," Holloway said. "It's like to that point is how do we get here and how do we solve this problem."