Self Defense Claimed At Florida College Shooting
PALM BAY, Florida — Palm Bay Police detectives with the Major Case Unit are continuing to investigate a shooting that occurred in the parking lot of Eastern Florida State College that left one man wounded and another hospitalized.
Just after 1:30 p.m., patrol officers responded to the newly-designated state college after several witnesses called 9-1-1 to report a fight in the parking lot. Police say that the callers also reported hearing a gun shot.
Palm Bay Fire- Rescue paramedics responded and treated two men at the scene. One man, identified as 25-year-old Amado Contreras, suffered a single gunshot wound to the chest area.
Police say that Contreras is in fair condition and the injury is not considered to be life threatening. The other man, identified as 24-year-old Landrick Hamilton, was sent to the hospital for injuries received in the fight prior to the shooting. A third man, identified as 29-year-old Landyer Contreras, was not injured, police say. Police spokesperson Yvonne Martinez added that all three men are cooperating in the investigation.
Based on witness interviews and interviews with the individuals, police believe that that Hamilton and the Contreras brothers were involved in a verbal argument which escalated into a physical fight in the parking lot in front of the college’s main building. During the fight, Hamilton obtained a handgun and fired one shot, striking Amado Contreras.
All three individuals are claiming self-defense, police say. All of the witness statements and evidence collected from the scene will be reviewed and sent to the State Attorney’s Office to determine if criminal charges will be applied as a result of this incident.
Last month, Florida's 1st District Court of Appeals Court ruled that Florida's state universities do not have the power to prohibit the carrying of a securely encased firearm within a motor vehicle that is parked in a university campus parking lot.
The case stems from a lawsuit brought by a college student who was joined by gun rights advocacy group Florida Carry, Inc. against the University of North Florida for its student code of conduct ban on the storage of any “weapon or destructive device" in a vehicle located on UNF property.
UNF maintained that the university's regulation was authorized under section 790.115(2)(a)3., Florida Statutes (2011), which provides that firearms may not be possessed on school property except when securely encased in a vehicle, but that “school districts” may adopt policies to waive the secure encasement exception.
But the court reasoned that the legislature has not delegated its authority under the Florida Constitution to regulate the manner of bearing arms to the state universities because the statute clearly grants school districts the power to waive the exception – not colleges or universities. The court found that UNF is not a “school district” under statutory definition.