May 30, 2020
By: Staff Report
The Temple Terrace protest and march that took place Saturday afternoon were peaceful. I was there.
Tonight, is a different story.
According to police, looting and rioting began near the 30th Street and Fowler Ave intersection, by the Universal Mall.
Tampa police and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies are using tear gas canisters to try and disperse crowds at University Mall on Fowler Avenue at about 10:30 p.m.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said that the people at the mall are no longer protesters, “they are now rioters and looters.”
There was a report of a woman shot at an apartment complex north of the Universal Mall, it is not known yet if the shooting was related to the rioting.
“While we support everyone’s right to assemble, rioting, looting, and vandalizing is unacceptable. We will be on the streets as long as needed in order to keep the protesters and those around them safe, however, we are asking that everyone respect their fellow citizens and the property of others. Anything less is unacceptable,” Chronister said.
“Tampa Police officers were monitoring protesters as they made their way westbound along Busch Boulevard from North 56th Street this afternoon,” Tampa Police public information officer Eddie Durkin. “At 6:45 p.m., the crowd converged on Busch Boulevard at North 30th Street where they began looting the Mobil station, setting off fireworks, throwing rocks and bottles, and surrounding bicycle officers who had originally been tasked with ensuring their safety and right to protest.”
He said a group of agitators in the crowd of about 300 people began throwing rocks at a vacant Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office cruiser, breaking the windows. Before long, looters broke into a Gold & Diamond Source and other stores in the University Mall area.
Tampa firefighters were called to the Mobil gas station at N. 30th Street and E. Busch Boulevard where a fire broke out, engulfing the entire building.
Several were arrested for looting businesses including the CVS, AT&T, and Cricket stores near the University Square Mall.
“A group within the protest began launching Roman candle-type fireworks at Tampa Police officers, striking one officer who, thankfully, was not injured,” Durkin said.
The K&G Fashion Superstore at University Square Mall was broken into and looted. The store front was shattered.
Police have an armored vehicle is trying to block parts of the mall.
We can report at this time, the Walmart in Brandon is not being looted.