UNION COUNTY, Fla. — The Union County Sheriff’s Office reported that chaos ensued in Lake Butler as a “pop-up” party spiraled out of control earlier Saturday.
At approximately 4:00 pm, hundreds of vehicles from the Alachua County area descended upon Lakeside Park, unleashing an unprecedented wave of people gathering. The majority of attendees were seen reportedly engaging in reckless drinking and drug use, leading to what Deputies labeled as lawlessness and public endangerment.
Citizens reportedly flooded UCSO’s phone lines with complaints about the deafening noise emanating from blaring music and the alarming size of the gathering.
Responding to these concerns, the City Commission promptly authorized the immediate closure of Lakeside Park, citing the overwhelming crowds, traffic gridlock, and flagrant violations of numerous laws. Estimates indicate that the crowd quickly surpassed 500 individuals and continued to grow in size.
However, as authorities attempted to disperse the crowds of people, an unidentified assailant fired several gunshots in the direction of the crowd.
One innocent bystander fell victim to the barrage of bullets and was swiftly transported to a local hospital for treatment. Fortunately, their injuries were determined to be non-life-threatening.
In an unexpected turn of events, the dispersing crowd migrated to various other locations, including Laredos, Fastrak, McDonald’s, Spires, Circle K, Westside Park, Main Street, and others.
As the number of out-of-county individuals surged past 1,000, the situation further deteriorated.
Disturbances reportedly erupted, roads were blocked, and law enforcement faced resistance from the increasingly defiant party-goers, who brazenly refused to comply with commands.
Authorities resorted to deploying chemical agents to quell the growing crowd and restore order. Multiple arrests were made as officers took action against those who gathered.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office expressed gratitude towards the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office and the multi-agency SWAT team for their prompt response and valuable assistance.
Several other law enforcement agencies reached out to offer support. The Lake Butler City Commission and City Manager were reportedly instrumental in aiding law enforcement efforts, while Union County Fire/Rescue and numerous individuals provided support during the events.
Thanks to the swift responses of on-call deputies, off-duty deputies, reserve deputies, and UCSO units, no law enforcement officers sustained injuries in the line of duty.
As the investigation continues, law enforcement officials remain resolute in identifying the individuals responsible for organizing this ill-fated pop-up party. Those found to be involved in felony criminal behavior will face charges and prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.
Sheriff Brad Whitehead underscored the Union County Sheriff’s Office’s commitment to upholding law and order, emphasizing that such brazen and reckless behavior will not be tolerated within the confines of Union County.
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