Fla. Police Horse, Officers among Those Struck by Teens' 'Gel Pellet Guns'

June 5, 2024
Two St. Petersburg police officers, a police horse and three diners were struck by shots from "gel pellet guns" as about 200 teens were gathered downtown.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL — A group of teens with “gel pellet guns” shot each other, diners, police officers and even the city’s police horse along Beach Drive on Saturday night, police Chief Anthony Holloway said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Three people were arrested that night in connection with the shootings, and Holloway warned that others will be arrested if the shootings persist.

The shootings occurred as about 200 teens were gathered downtown, the chief said. Some of the shooting occurred as a 22-year-old drove a car “up and down” Beach Drive with “a carload of young teens,” according to a news release from the police department.

Police said a 14-year-old was shooting a pellet gun through the car’s sunroof. Both that teen and the man driving the car were arrested.

According to police spokesperson Yolanda Fernandez, there was no particular formal gathering that drew the teenagers downtown besides it being a “popular spot” for youth.

Two police officers were hit, as were a couple eating outside a restaurant. The police horse, which is named Storm, was hit in the neck and eye. Storm is being treated for the eye injury, which isn’t believed to be serious, police said.

Holloway said the shootings began at the Pier. Police recovered at least six pellet guns from the scene, he said. The St. Petersburg Police Department plans to increase the number of officers downtown this weekend, including bringing in school resource officers “who know these kids,” Holloway said.

Police said the gel pellet guns generally “sting” but don’t cause permanent damage, though they can if someone is hit in the eye.

“The youths that are using these toys should realize they could hurt someone,” Holloway said. “If we catch these kids out there using these toys the wrong way, we will arrest you.”

Holloway said parents also could be held responsible for medical costs for injuries caused by teens who shoot the gel guns.

“These are dangerous toys,” Holloway added. “Do not bring them back downtown, or to any community.”


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