JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A witness told News4JAX on Tuesday that he was there when a 17-year-old was wounded in a shooting over the weekend at what the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said was a car club meeting in a parking lot on Roosevelt Boulevard.
The shooting happened in a Winn Dixie plaza that typically sits empty afterhours. For weeks, News4JAX has covered car club meetup stories and how some people in the community perceive these meetings.
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Now that one has turned violent, a regular participant — who calls himself James — is speaking out.
“My friend that was parked next to me said they saw a fight going down. That’s all that I knew was happening. I didn’t see anyone get shot,” James said.
James has spoken with News4JAX before, but we are not using his real name following a prior interview that he said caused him to become an outcast in the car community.
He said he was there when everyone scattered and took off from the parking lot over the weekend. James said he knew something like this was inevitable based on some of the chaos that has been reported in certain parking lots late at night.
“I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen cars crash into poles. I’ve seen an AR pistol get pulled on somebody, I’ve seen fist fights. I’ve seen it all. You really don’t know what to expect,” James said.
A month ago, in an unrelated incident, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said two motorcyclists died after doing stunts in a parking lot of a warehouse.
While this shooting happened, and there are people who criticize the car meets, News4JAX has spoken with several people who attend meet-ups that say they’re an alternative for young people who would otherwise be out late at night, possibly involved in criminal activity.
There is, however, an additional question of legal liability for owners of the parking lots, where tire marks have been left behind from people burning rubber and doing doughnuts.
News4JAX spoke with Belkis Plata at Plata Schott Attorneys and Counselors at Law. She offered a legal warning for property owners, even if they don’t want the groups gathering at their parking lots.
“It would really be on a case-by-case basis, but let’s say this is the first time this has happened. I would say there’s a lesser chance this would happen because how would they know this is happening? But we’re talking about the second or third time. They’ve been put on notice then, yes, they could be possibly be held liable,” Plata explained.
News4JAX has spoke with one property management company, which said they’ve considered hiring on-site security for their lot. To do so, we were told that it cold cost thousands of dollars a week to have someone on site nightly.