JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A rowdy midnight party Sunday at a RaceWay gas station off Lem Turner Road was shut down -- twice -- by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Before police were called, several dozen people crowded in the gas station parking lot, while a few stood on top of their vehicles. They were blaring music, drinking alcohol and smoking cigars at the gas pumps, according to callers who told News4Jax they were concerned for their safety and the lack of social distancing.
It appeared some people were drawn to the RaceWay by the commotion, taking their cellphones out to film video.
Video shows people socializing and waving their arms to music in crowds, clearly violating the social distancing guideline asking for groups no larger than 10 to assemble.
An employee who asked to remain anonymous told News4Jax that JSO first broke up the party around 11 p.m. but the crowds returned just after midnight and started partying again until police officers came back.
Traffic was slowed in the area when police showed up to shut it down.
The employee said the police should have been called earlier before the crowd got so large and unruly. He said measures are now in place to ensure large gatherings like that don’t happen again.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said this type of behavior is concerning so soon after Florida reopened portions of its economy.
“The majority of people actually don’t take the pandemic seriously and this is the evidence. (They think) it’s not serious until it’s deadly, or until it hits them or a friend or a loved one,” Jefferson said. "They are dangerous. They are ignoring the signs from our health officials. We need to do our due diligence to make sure we are safe.”