Updated with comments from Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley and Fort Worth police spokesperson Buddy Calzada.
Fort Worth police said Monday they attempted to stop people from drinking alcohol, riding ATVs and gathering in large numbers in Village Creek Park Sunday before shots rang out and injured five people.
Five officers were at the park in marked squad vehicles as early as 5:45 p.m. addressing a crowd of about 400 people over police vehicle PA systems, according to a Monday news release. On Sunday, police estimated the crowd to be about 600 people strong.
"We didn’t want to write a bunch of tickets and citations and make everybody mad at us," Buddy Calzada, a Fort Worth Police Department spokesperson said. "Help us. We’re asking for the community’s help to educate other people.”
When the gunshots rang out, some of those same officers rushed to aid the wounded while others searched for a shooter. Police said dashcam footage captured the crowd running away.
All five shooting victims are expected to recover, police said.
The department's gang unit is leading the investigation with assistance from state and federal investigators.
“You just have people that are just fighting senselessly for turf or a name or a claim that’s really not theirs," Calzada said. “I just don’t understand it."
"First, the department would like to reassure the community that we are working diligently to ensure the investigation is concluded as expeditiously as possible while maintaining the integrity of the investigative process," the Fort Worth Police Department said in a Monday news release. "Additionally, FWPD is working closely with members of the community to ensure those responsible are held accountable."
As the investigation continues, local leaders are expressing concern about the number of people at the park in the middle of a pandemic.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was just blown away,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said. “In these times where we are just beginning to lessen the restrictions, I just couldn’t believe that this big of a gathering would occur.”
Whitley’s been leading Tarrant County’s response to the coronavirus. He reminds the community that people are still very sick and dying from this virus.
“We expected that the number of positive cases was going to be flat or even maybe go up a little. But when you do things like this you’re just basically inviting the whole thing, the spikes to begin again,” Whitley said. “And for all those things we’ve fought the last two months to get under control, something like this can immediately just take it the other direction.”
“I just thought better of folks here in Tarrant County and was very disappointed that they chose to do this,” Whitley said.
As for the other issue, Jesse Taylor lives nearby, and he believes leaders need to get a handle on gun violence.
“It happens all the time here and it’s something that needs to stop,” Taylor said. “It needs to be a serious campaign with Tarrant County and Dallas County to help stop this violence.”
Fort Worth police's gang unit will continue to investigate. If you have any information call the Fort Worth Police Department at 817-392-4222.