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Ginnie Springs releases 6-point enhanced safety & security plan after 2 die in Memorial Day weekend shootings
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Ginnie Springs releases 6-point enhanced safety & security plan after 2 die in Memorial Day weekend shootings

  • PublishedJune 4, 2024



HIGH SPRINGS, Fla. – After a second person died following a pair of shootings at Ginnie Springs over Memorial Day weekend, the company that owns the private park in Gilchrist County released a six-point plan to enhance safety and security at the popular park.

The first shooting on May 24 happened after visitors got into an argument over a parking spot at the park, according to the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office.

It was assumed the fights between the two groups were resolved, but an hour later, Koty Stewart, 34, of Jacksonville, was found shot near the Beaver’s Landing bathhouse. He did not survive.

Two brothers from St. Marys, Georgia, Fisher and Dallas Watts, have been charged in connection to Stewart’s shooting.

MORE: Georgia brothers arrested in fatal shooting of Jacksonville man at Ginnie Springs over parking spot: GCSO

Koty Stewart, 34 (WJXT)

The second shooting over the holiday weekend was on May 25 around 11:30 p.m. in the roadway inside the park, between the Devil’s Spring and the Tube Launch. Deputies said a “large” fight broke out and someone shot into the crowd, injuring three people.

Marco Mandujano, 26, later died at the hospital. No arrests have been made in the Saturday shooting.

The sheriff’s office said crowd and drug and alcohol issues at Ginnie Springs have escalated over the years and the shootings happened despite 35 police officers from various agencies working at the park over the holiday weekend.

In response to the deadly incidents, Ginnie Springs Outdoors, which runs the privately owned park, released a six-point plan to enhance safety and security at the park.

  1. Limit park capacity: Owners are implementing a new policy to limit the number of park guests – both day and overnight admissions.

  2. Strengthen collaboration with law enforcement: The park has begun the process of reaching out to the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and is committed to regular meetings to share information and develop joint safety strategies.

  3. Increase staffing: The park will increase staff during holiday weekends, events and busy times and will deploy the additional off-duty officers strategically throughout the park. The additional resources should be available within a month.

  4. Retain a third-party security expert: Owners are in the process of identifying a third-party expert to review and help further strengthen the park’s security measures and plans to develop a comprehensive approach to proactively addressing overall safety protocols and continually updating response plans.

  5. Increase visibility and deepen understanding of park rules and policies: The owner said they are taking steps to better inform and educate park guests about park rules and policies and are increasing the visibility of rules and policies by posting additional signage upon entry, throughout the park and online.

  6. Increase resources and training for employees on park policies and procedures: The owners said they will provide employees with additional training and support and will continue to encourage employees to share observations and thoughts on how to improve.

WATCH: Full Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office update

The shootings temporarily closed the park, but it was reopened the next day.

Agents are urging anyone who may have witnessed the second shooting or who has information about the case to call FDLE at 386-462-9975.

Copyright 2024 by WJXT News4JAX – All rights reserved.



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johndweiner@gmail.com

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