A Florida sheriff has warned gang members are hosting large COVID-19 parties of up to 400 people to spread the virus between them.
Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson said “residents are scared” after more than 600 noise complaints have been filed since March due to massive parties attended by hundreds and housed in vacation homes.
A shocking video released by the sheriff’s office shows dozens of cars blocking a roadway in early July when a large group of people gathered to dance and party on the street.
Images from May show even more cars blocking a full intersection before the party was interrupted by cops. The sheriff warns that residents “are currently living a life of terror.”
Images of one of the parties in May show cars blocking a full intersection before the party is interrupted by cops. Local sheriff believes group wants to spread coronavirus
In another clip from July, revelers in Florida are seen dancing the streets
Parties sometimes gather up to 400 people and one person has already been killed as a result of shootings among those present.
Sheriff Gibson told Click Orlando that he believed the people gathered were “trying to meddle to potentially spread the virus between them.”
He said the county was experiencing a sudden increase in coronavirus cases as a result.
“They are called, from what I am told, COVID-19 parties where they get together and try to mingle to potentially spread the virus among themselves if they are asymptomatic or whatever. the case could be, ”Gibson said.
“We just saw a huge peak here in Osceola County.
Gibson said if those who attend the parties aren’t at risk if they contract COVID-19, they could pass it on to someone who is.
“The problem is when you have this and you take it home to a parent or grandparent, and you unknowingly pass this virus on to them, and you maybe end them. life. It just isn’t worth it, ”Gibson said.
Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson says “locals are scared”
“And you have to think beyond the moment. And I think that sometimes our young people only think of the moment.
In addition to the threat of the spread of the coronavirus, he also warned that gangs were involved in the rental of homes.
Gibson estimates that the groups come from central Florida and rent several vacation homes in the area, focusing on three specific closed housing projects.
“Well, a lot of times we’ve found that there are people here who are disreputable people that you wouldn’t want in your neighborhood. There are gangs who rent these houses and come here to Osceola County. And it’s something we need to protect our residents, “said Gibson.
A man has previously been arrested following a fatal shooting at one of the parties in April.
Demetrius Cox, 20, was taken into custody after shooting a man at one of the house parties.
Wolph Lutherking Luma, also 20, was dropped off at Dr. Phillip’s Hospital in Orange County after being shot at the party in the South Stoneybrook Subdivision in Davenport.
Local police had previously visited the scene after reporting gunfire but could not find a casualty.
Sheriff’s office says parties, pictured, can be attended by up to 400 people
They park dozens of cars on the road to block the streets so that participants can dance on the street
Demetrius Cox, 20 (pictured), has been taken into custody after allegedly shooting a man at one of the house parties in April Sheriff said at least 600 noise complaints were received
“These are real situations, very dangerous situations and our residents are scared, you know, and we don’t want that,” Gibson said of the current problem.
“And we don’t want to feel, other than disperse that, that we are powerless and that they just keep happening. Osceola County cannot be listed as Party Central or COVID-19 Party Central and we are not going to do so.
Gibson says the cops were able to disperse some of the parties, but in others, fireworks were thrown at the officers to push them back.
“Last week someone, people in the crowd threw fireworks at the MPs who were there. They did the right thing, they backed off, they waited for additional resources to arrive, and then we went in and got the party going, “Gibson told Click Orlando. “We dispersed it.
He added that a gun had been recovered and that some shots had been fired at the same party.
The sheriff now hopes his office can work with local politicians to change the way local tourism works and end the COVID parties.
“If I’m going to bring a lobbyist to the sheriff’s office to help us up there in Tallahassee, that’s what we’ll do to change these laws that affect the tourism industry in central Florida.” Wherever there is tourism, these homes and parties can go on, ”Gibson said.
“We are not going to publish quotes when we go to these houses when we attend these open houses. We will move them forward. They will not be allowed to stay.
There are 5,556 confirmed coronavirus cases in Osceola County, according to the local health authority, with 286 new confirmed cases since Thursday.
The county has suffered 38 coronavirus deaths.
Large parties also remained a problem in other parts of Florida.
In May, a huge memorial party with 3,000 people arrested seven people, a man with a pistol, a gunshot and an injured MP.
Shocking aerial and body images were released showing thousands of residents on the streets of southwest DeLand at a memorial celebration for Kenya Alexander, a DeLand man murdered in 2008.
Helicopter footage showed how the party spanned several blocks on West Lisbon Parkway with hundreds of cars parked along one corner of a park.
After the end of the day, the party took a violent turn where the revelers threw bottles and bar stools on the cops trying to break the meeting around midnight, according to the office of the sheriff of Volusia.
While residents of the party said the rally was peaceful and the police instigated problems, the Volusia sheriff’s office released a body camera and helicopter images in response to show how great the party was. got out of hand.
A memorial celebration for 3,000 people in Florida in May resulted in the arrest of seven people, a man was the victim of a taser and an assistant was injured. Helicopter footage of the massive rally above
Florida has seen a drastic increase in coronavirus cases, with the Florida Department of Health reporting 322,994 positive cases and at least 4,912 total deaths on Friday.
In the past two months, the state has taken the place of the United States at the epicenter of COVID-19 after New York has successfully reduced its numbers since March.
Florida recorded 11,459 new cases and 128 new deaths on Friday.
Much of the outbreak is concentrated in South Florida, where areas like Miami-Dade and Broward County have become swamped with cases.
WFLA reports that as of Friday 366 infected patients were hospitalized, adding to the total of 1,693 residents admitted to Tampa.
Statewide, 8,886 patients were admitted to hospitals.
Young Floridians were the source of new cases, with residents aged 25 to 34 having recorded the most recent.