Easter Sunday quadruple shooting in park kills 2

Families flee in terror when gunfire erupts

Easter Sunday at Al Barnes Park in Tampa was a day filled with family fun, as children hunted for eggs, people cooked barbecue, and others simply chilled out with friends near the baseball diamond.

That is, until shortly before 5 p.m., when gunshots sent dozens of people running in terror in all directions.

"Someone pulled out a gun and started shooting," said police Lt. Ron McMullen, who seemed disgusted by the turn of events.  "Easter Sunday is supposed to be celebrating the resurrection of Christ and this garbage happens."  

Nico Crawford, 22, and Zedmon Culpepper, 17, died at the scene.  Two others were taken to Tampa General Hospital and were listed in critical but stable condition. 

One of the victims was a young girl, who fell to the ground after she was shot.  She kept trying to get up despite her injuries, and that's when Shawn Howard rushed to her rescue.

"I held her head in my arms." said Howard, 36.  She had brought her own two daughters to the park, and even though she didn't know the shooting victim, she helped her anyway.

"She's somebody's child," said Howard, describing how she saw a hole in the girl's hand and blood on her side.  Howard said the girl complained of burning in her stomach, so she stayed with her until paramedics arrived.

"It wasn't like this when I was growing up," Howard said.  "It's a whole new era here."

Rhonda Blocker said she was appalled at seeing the the violence on a day when most people came to Barnes Park for a peaceful afternoon.

"It's just a sad situation that these young kids are getting a hold of guns and they're killing each other," Blocker said.

Investigators said the shooting was not random, as five or six people had gathered at the park when an argument broke out.  Once the first shots were fired, a flurry of shots from several people followed, police said.

Officers were gathering bullet cases and evidence in the parking area along 21st St., just a few feet away from where a small cat was eating the broken hard-boiled eggs that had been dropped on the pavement during the panic.

Family members who arrived at the park after hearing about the shooting began shrieking in anguish when they were informed about the deaths.

Police records show that Crawford had been arrested more than 20 times on multiple felony charges, including aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Barnes Park had been the scene of shooting several months earlier, but police said it appeared that the location was used as a meeting place by the suspects.  Why they chose an area filled with families and children is unclear.

"It's just people making poor decisions and coming to the park to take out their anger and aggressions," McMullen said.

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