PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Rowdy crowds gathered in large numbers and disrupted many Panama City Beach businesses Saturday night, many of which closed down early out of safety concerns.
“I didn’t see any shooting but people were talking about it but I did hear about it and everybody was running,” visitor Ladariya Gurley said. “We were getting run over by people. They were pushing us.”
“I came in my sandals because when we see a whole group of people running, we’re gonna run. We’re not gonna sit there,” visitor Kiniya Marsh said.
Local fine dining establishment Firefly closed three hours early Saturday night.
“You tell people that have their anniversary dinner or their birthday dinner and have scheduled an 8 o’clock reservation I gotta call them and say “Hey guys, we gotta cancel you,” Firefly owner Dave Trepanier said. “That birthday or anniversary only comes once a year so you got people that came into town for it so those decisions aren’t taken lightly but a the end of the day you have to consider public safety and the safety of your staff.”
Pink Pelican Ice Cream Bar manager Brian Watson said they had hardly any business Saturday night because of the crowds.
“Last night there was just mayhem,” Watson said. “There were people all over the sidewalks, enough to where people couldn’t freely walk through the sidewalk.”
“When you got Walmarts and Waffle Houses and you have things that don’t ever shut down shutting down you know there’s a problem,” Trepanier said.
Walmart told News 13 in a statement: “We are aware of what happened in our store Saturday and are disturbed by the actions of this group. The store did close a few hours later for reasons unrelated to this incident. We’ll continue working closely with local police and must refer other questions to law enforcement.”
“They went to Walmart, messing up Walmart so that part is messed up how they came down here and caused a ruckus because we just came to have fun not to mess up what everybody had going on because people still live here and people still have lives at the end of the day,” visitor Zadajia Marshall said.
“It’s a shame if somebody came down here and this was their first visit to Panama City Beach,” Trepanier said. “They’re going to walk away thinking this is the norm and it’s not so that to me is why we try to get a handle on this as quickly as possible because it can’t continue to happen.”