Jacksonville Beach shootings: Search for suspects continues, mayor says ‘this is a safe community’

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — The Jacksonville Beach Police Department continues to investigate shootings that led to one person being killed and 3 others injured on Sunday night.

The shootings caused panic in the city’s downtown area as many people were out at the bars celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.


Action News Jax will continue to follow this story with live updates below:

Update, 3/18/24, 3:20 p.m.: The Jacksonville Beach Police Department shared video on its Facebook page of a previously advertised large gathering of teens on the beach on Sunday. JBPD said it “began tracking several events and staffed officers accordingly.”

The clips included social media videos, city surveillance, and business-provided closed-circuit television.

Beginning last week, officers began receiving information in reference to organized fights on our beach scheduled for Sunday, March 17th. We began tracking several events and staffed officers accordingly. Below are a few clips of user videos, city surveillance, and business provided CCTV that were discussed at this morning’s press conference.

Posted by City of Jacksonville Beach Police Department on Monday, March 18, 2024

Update, 3/18/24, 10:55 a.m.: Jacksonville Beach Mayor Chris Hoffman spoke with Action News Jax’s Jake Stofan about safety in the city in the wake of the shootings and during the spring break season.

“This is senseless violence multiple times over, which is not something that we routinely see here in Jacksonville Beach. So I do want to reassure people that this is a safe community,” Hoffman said.

She said it’s about ensuring the safety of residents as well as visitors.

“We are a place where people come, you know, to have fun and to play, but we have a residents community, we live and work here as well. So we want to just make sure that we can ensure that everyone who comes out here safe and has an enjoyable time as they visit Jacksonville Beach,” Hoffman said.

Update, 3/18/24, 10:45 a.m.: Action News Jax’s Jake Stofan asked Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Gene Paul Smith if he had any plans to increase patrols in the wake of the shootings.

“I’m not gonna give away my hand. I’m, I’d like it to be a surprise. You can probably bet if you know me that yeah, we’re gonna be doing some things,” Smith said.

Smith said that he would use intelligence gained by investigators to drive his decisions on where and when to deploy officers.

“I gotta let that intel drive our efforts, because when you’re just throwing bodies at problems, when you defend everything, you’re defending nothing. You’re just riding around, burning your officers out and wasting money,” he said.

RELATED: ‘Tragic situation:’ Jacksonville Beach mayor, others react to shootings that left 1 dead, 3 injured

Update, 3/18/24, 9:30 a.m.: Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Gene Paul Smith gave the following updates on the investigation:

  • Several hundred teens, about 250-400, gathered under the Jacksonville Beach Pier for planned fights, then the shootings happened.
  • Police are investigating 3 separate, unrelated shootings.
  • The initial shooting was near boardwalk & Best Western Hotel at around 7:50 p.m., and officers already in the area when it happened. Three people were shot and two people were shooting at each other. An innocent bystander was hit. The other two people are considered “victim-suspects.”
  • The second shooting happened at around 8:13 p.m. in the parking lot outside the Ritz Bar. A suspect in a ski mask opened fire before dumping the pistol, which was recovered by police. No one was injured in this shooting.
  • The third shooting happened at around 8:31 p.m. outside Sneakers Bar. There were 3 suspects and one person was killed.
  • One of the suspects in one of the shootings does have ties to a gang. Police have not made any arrests of the shooters at this time.

Update, 3/17/24, 10:54 p.m.: The City of Jacksonville Beach Police Department has lifted the shelter-in-place order as they continue to work the scene.

Original story from 3/17/24: The Jacksonville Beach Police Department has confirmed that it is responding to three people reportedly shot, and 1 killed in downtown Jax Beach, with several shooters on the loose.

JBPD made a post on its Facebook page that everyone to shelter in place at this time.

Update at 2254 hours: Officers are still working the scene but the shelter in place has been lifted....

Posted by City of Jacksonville Beach Police Department on Sunday, March 17, 2024

According to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, three individuals have been reported shot at the scene. Their conditions vary, with one reportedly deceased, one in serious condition, and the third sustaining non-life-threatening injuries.

One was reportedly shot in the Sneakers parking lot and is currently in critical condition. Two others were reportedly shot at 2nd Ave. North.

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A media briefing will be held at 8:00 a.m. Monday, March 18 regarding the active shooter incident.

Action News Jax told you earlier this evening that a large police presence was observed in the Jacksonville Beach area near 2nd Ave N & 1st St N.

Eyewitnesses reported the presence of multiple ambulances and patrol cars near the scene.

Action News Jax is on-site gathering information, including any potential injuries or arrests.

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As this is an ongoing investigation, further details will be provided as they become available.

Anyone with any information that can assist police is asked to call 904-270-1661.

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William Clayton

William Clayton, Action News Jax

Digital reporter and content creator for Action News Jax

Amanda Winkle

Amanda Winkle, Action News Jax

Amanda Winkle is the digital content manager for Action News Jax.