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Looting and fires plague Tampa anti-police brutality protest

The incident is related to George Floyd protests.

The University of South Florida reported shots fired near campus late Saturday night due to “civil unrest.” Looting, rioting and fires have also been reported.

The school alerted students and faculty in a text message at 10:24 p.m.

“SHOTS FIRED TUE TO CIVIL UNREST NEAR USF. STUDENTS ON CAMPUS REMAIN INDOORS,” the text read.

Unconfirmed rumors suggest someone may have been shot, though deputies later said the shooting appeared unrelated to protests, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Major rioting near USF, VA hospital, TGH, Moffitt. Included someone being shot. I got co-workers due for MN work shift… I’m not sure they are going to be able to get there safely,” tweeted Jennifer Horsley.

 

Champs Sports was also set aflame.

 

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office tweeted a deputy had been transported to the hospital after being struck with a hard object.

 

Another twitter user claimed a gas station was on fire.

 

Yet another video shows what appears to be a protester throwing a tear gas canister back at Tampa Police Officer.

 

A Tampa Bay Times video shows protesters attacking an armored vehicle.

 

WFLA reports a jewelry store across the street from University Mall was looted, losing at least $100,000 worth of product. The Gold N’ Diamonds store had broken windows and doors and empty jewelry boxes were strewn along the sidewalk in front of the store. The outlet reported other businesses that were looted including a CVS.

 

University Mall is reportedly on total lockdown.

Earlier in the evening Tampa Police closed Busch Blvd. between N 26th & N 34th St. due to protesters throwing rocks during a demonstration, according to the department’s Twitter feed.

 

A follow up moments after the first USF text reminded students to remain indoors “until further notice.”

As of 11:20 p.m. no further notice had been communicated.

Shots were fired during protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis who died earlier this week after a police interaction resulted in him being detained while an officer placed his knee over his neck. Floyd could be heard on video saying he couldn’t breathe before he died.

A video from University Mall posted to Twitter shows dozens of officers lined up with tear gas canisters deployed.

Earlier in the day protests in the area resulted in unrest after protesters launched fireworks into a crowd of police officers, striking one, but not injuring the officer. Rocks and other objects were also reportedly thrown at officers and an empty Hillsborough County Sheriff’s vehicle was damaged.

A spokesperson for the city of Tampa did not immediately have information about the incident. The Tampa Police Department’s media relations line rings several times before the line goes dead, an unusual occurrence.

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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