JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man and woman shot and killed Sunday night as they left a large party on Jacksonville's Northside were dating, according to family members.
Silas Ervin and Etrice Inman, both 30 years old, had attended an Easter party at The Party Spot, along with 500 to 1,000 people other people before they were killed, family said. Police said they were shot and killed in a parking lot near the intersection of Lem Turner and Dunn Avenue, next door to where the party was held.
The owner of The Party Spot emphasized that the shooting did not happen on her company's property.
"It was pretty shocking when you hear 'The Party Spot,' and that it happened on The Party Spot, and it didn't, so I had to come to you guys and clarify, clear all of this up, because that is not the vibe that we want in the community," Tequilla Verner said.
Despite hundreds of people at the party, no one has come forward as a witness.
"It's Easter Sunday and to have another shooting; I'm ready to stop this," Sgt. Chuck Ford said.
Inman was found dead in the grass, and Ervin later died at the hospital. Police have yet to release any suspect information.
According to multiple sources close to the victims, the shooting was in retaliation for another shooting in Jacksonville. Police have not confirmed that.
A friend of Inman's, who was at the party, said a man was overheard making threats before the shooting.
"The young man was saying, 'Before today is over with, this **** is going to die,'" said the friend, who wished to remain anonymous.
Family told News4Jax that Ervin was a very nice man who would give the shirt off his back to someone who needed it. According to family and friends, Inman leaves behind an 8-year-old daughter.
"I'm trying to deal with it the best I can, day by day," said Eugenia Welcome, Inman's friend. "I miss my friend so much. It's terrible."
Members of the New Black Panthers were at the party, speaking to crowds during the event. They said part of their message was about ending this type of violence. They are upset and concerned for the victims' families and said they will put up posters to try and help find the killer.
"People are frustrated. They are fearful. You can’t go out and have a good evening," said Mikhail Mohammad of the New Black Panthers.
A flyer that was found near the scene shows the "10th Annual Easter Block Party" started around noon Sunday and there was live music, a DJ, and an "adult Easter egg hunt."
Darnell Hicks, who hosted the party, said he has been putting on this event for 10 years without any problems.
"It was all gated area. It was all in one big area. We had music. We had officers, and we had security," Hicks said. "It was a great event. It turned out well. It was nice. It was over and an unfortunate incident happened away from the party."
Even though the shooting did not happen during the event or on the property, Hicks said he is very concerned. He said he knows both of the victims and has no idea why they were killed.
"They were all there at the party having a good time. I just hugged the girl and they were still having a good time, like all of the other people," Hicks said.
The Party Spot owner, Verner, said she did not see or hear of anyone arguing or fighting. Verner said it's up to the person renting the venue to provide security, but she has 16 surveillance cameras on the property, including eight outside.
"They could have been outside the fence, along the street. I don't know. But that's not the type of environment that we have there," Verner said. "I'm going to be a lot more careful with who is going to be renting and what type of crowd they're going to be bringing. That's not what we want here."
Police said they are looking through surveillance video in hopes of learning what led up to the shooting.
Officers worked throughout the night and into Monday morning collecting evidence, including a silver car with bullets through the passenger-side doors.
Police ask anyone with information to call the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.