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Police seek Art Walk shooting witnesses caught on video

JSO still seeks answers after 2 teens shot in downtown Jacksonville

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Video released Friday by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office shows the moments after a double shooting near Art Walk earlier this month that left two teenagers injured.

In the video, one of the teens can be seen walking into an alley, which police said was next to the SunTrust bank at 76 S. Laura St. The teen is struggling to stand upright and several people can be seen rushing to help him.

Police hope the community can help identify some of the witnesses in the video.

Anyone who can help identify the witnesses is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

Sheriff: Not random act

Sheriff Mike Williams said earlier this month that the double shooting on Jan. 4 during the first Art Walk of the year in downtown Jacksonville was not a random act of violence.

Police said the two teens were shot in an alley on North Laura Street, a few blocks from Hemming Park, where the monthly Art Walk event was underway.

Williams said the teens and the shooters possibly knew one another and that the victims are not affiliated with any known street gangs.

"Something got those parties in that alleyway together," Williams said, indicating it might have been some type of criminal activity, such as a drug deal. "We won't stop until those responsible for these acts of violence are arrested."

Williams said the two teenage victims are not cooperating with police.

2 teens injured

One of the two teens injured in the shooting is a football player for Raines High School, News4Jax has learned.

Benwah Wilson, 16, was shot in the foot. He plays football for the Vikings, according to a team website. The other victim, 17-year-old Gregory Richardson, was shot in the leg, police said.

Police responded about 9:30 p.m. to reports of shots fired in the area of Bay and Laura streets, near the Bank of America Tower.

An off-duty officer who was downtown at the time found Wilson in the area where the boys were shot, and another off-duty officer found Richardson at The Jacksonville Landing, where he ran afterward, police said.

Witnesses said Richardson ran to Fionn MacCool's.

Both teens were taken to UF Health Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

JSO Sgt. C. Jones said it is unclear exactly how many shots were fired. Williams said multiple guns were fired, based on shell casings found at the scene.

"There was -- it's just a guesstimate -- hundreds, if not 1,000 or more, people down here at the time of the shooting. And certainly it could have been much, much worse," Jones said.

Williams said Wilson had an empty holster on him, and another empty holster was found in a car stopped in connection with the investigation. 

Business owner frustrated by violence

The general manager of Fionn MacCool's said the Art Walk shooting and another double shooting in front of the Landing that left one teenager dead have cost his business money.

“The perception of downtown has gone down in a lot of people’s eyes,” Paul Glaser said.

Glaser said there is no doubt that the violence is hurting business.

“Obviously last Monday we had to close early, loss of sales there. I've lost an event too. A group that was going to have an event near downtown, they took their event somewhere else in the city,” Glaser said. “It was a conference for one of our local companies.”

While police search for the rest of the people involved in the Art Walk shooting, local businesses hope things can get back to normal.

“I think that it starts in the home,” Glaser said. “I know we need our city leaders, our spiritual leaders, pastors, everybody else out and working with the youth. Let's get them off the streets. Somebody's obviously getting into their head. It's not in the right direction -- changing kids. I mean, what is a 13-, 15-, 16-year-old child doing with the gun in the first place?”

Other business owners at the Landing also said their revenue has suffered since the shootings, but declined to comment further.

Toney Sleiman, the owner of the Landing, said he'd like to see the city enforce a curfew for minors. He said that right now groups of teens under the age of 18 are escorted off property, but he's considering raising that threshold to 21 years old.

He believes unsupervised minors are causing most of the issues with violence downtown, and he wants to see change.


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