(Photo courtesy Hillsborough County LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus/Facebook)
TAMPA | Tampa detectives arrested and charged Tyrell Stephen Phillips, 22, with second degree murder Oct. 29 after two people were killed and 16 others were injured in an Ybor shooting over Halloween weekend, an area frequented by Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ+ community.
Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw said during a press conference that at least two shooters opened fire just before 3 a.m. in Ybor City along 7th Ave., which hosts LGBTQ+ establishments like Bradley’s on 7th and is home to Tampa Pride‘s annual parade. Families have identified the victims as Elijah Jaquan Wilson, 14, and Harrison Boonstoppel, 20.
Based on the evidence as of Oct. 31, detectives believe there are two additional suspects who appear to have fired several gunshots. Of those injured, 15 were treated for gunshot wounds and one was treated for other serious injuries. Police said that the majority had been released from the hospital by Oct. 29 and that two handguns were in custody, one that was stolen and one that was not.
“We make arrests quickly and with a sense of urgency,” Bercaw said. “If you commit a crime in Tampa, you are going to pay for it and you are going to be charged. Thanks to the community who came forward after we asked for tips, we were able to quickly charge the suspect with second-degree murder in this case.”
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor joined Bercaw during a press conference, decrying the violence and calling for action.
“Once again, we are confronted with the senseless loss of life as disputes are resolved with firearms,” she also shared in a release. “Lives have been tragically cut short and others irrevocably altered — but to what end?
“The Tampa Police Department had 50 officers deployed in the area at the time, who responded within seconds of the shooting, underscoring that this is not a law enforcement issue,” she continued. “Bad decisions made in a split second, coupled with the widespread availability of guns, are responsible for this tragedy. We can control one half of this equation.”
View their full press conference below:
In response to the shooting, the GaYBor District Coalition — which has supported LGBTQ+ and ally business in the area for 15 years — cancelled its Halloween bar crawl scheduled for Oct. 29. They subsequently called on members of the community to “show extra love to all bartenders servers and staff” as businesses in the district began to reopen late Oct. 29. “It’s not easy to return back to work from what occurred last night.”
“We are Love. We are Strong. We are GaYBOR,” the Tampa Bay Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence added.
The Hillsborough County LGBTQ Democratic Caucus, which calls Ybor its “home away from home,” shared their condolences Oct. 29.
“Our hearts go out to the victims, families, and friends impacted by the events that took place last night,” the organization shared via social media. “We are here to provide support to the Ybor community in any way that they need. Please check in on your friends and family, and reach out to us if you need any support.”
Tampa Pride said the organization was “deeply saddened about a tragic event.”
“Our hearts truly go out to the victims and their families during this incredibly tough time,” they shared via social media. “It’s moments like these that remind us about the significance of creating a safe and secure community for all of us.”
The shooting remains an active and ongoing investigation. Detectives are continuing to gather evidence, develop leads to determine what led to the shooting and apprehend all parties involved.
Anyone with information that can assist in the investigation is asked to call the Tampa Police Department at 813-231-6130, send a tip via TIP411 or contact Crimestoppers of Tampa Bay at 800-873-TIPS.
The department has also partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to launch a web-based portal to submit tips related to the shooting. Members of the public can submit text, photos or videos that will be routed directly to investigators at FBI.gov/TampaShooting.