A raucous Texas beach event known as “Go Topless Jeep Weekend” ended with two people hospitalized following a shooting and nearly 200 others arrested on various charges.
Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said two men were airlifted to the hospital after both of them were shot in the torso during the annual event on Bolivar Peninsula, which brings together thousands of Jeep lovers and 4-wheeler enthusiasts.
A group of men and women were arguing when the fight escalated and gunshots rang out, Trochesset told NBC News. The conditions of the two men who were hospitalized haven’t been released.
Authorities are looking for a third man who fled, the sheriff said Tuesday. No arrests were made in the shooting, and the investigation is ongoing.
By the time the gathering ended, more than 180 attendees had been taken into custody on numerous unrelated charges. The sheriff said charges included assault, driving without wearing a seat belt, DWI and public intoxication. Most of those who were arrested have since bonded out.
Justin Weaver, a resident of Bolivar, told NBC affiliate KBMT of Beaumont that he was disappointed in how people acted.
“I don’t know why it’s so hard for people just to show up and have fun these days,” he said. “It disappoints me to see that kind of violence come here, because it’s usually real quiet here.”
Weaver said he hopes that next time people will “respect the beach and respect the people that live here.”
Thousands of people flocked to the area for the gathering.
Bolivar Peninsula Chamber of Commerce President Brenda Flanagan said she hopes the arrests and shooting won’t define the community.
“It’s always sad when someone gets hurt on our beach,” she told KBMT. “It’s a sad situation, because Bolivar Peninsula is a safe place for people to come.”
Trochesset said a majority of those arrested don’t own Jeeps.
“I can’t blame it on the Jeep clubs,” the sheriff said.
More than 100 people were also arrested at last year’s event.
Texas reopened its beaches May 1 after shutting them down because of the coronavirus pandemic. A video from the weekend’s festivities showed many of the attendees partying and drinking while not practicing social distancing.
“We been in quarantine, and I need to get out and party,” beachgoer Chelsey Coyer told KBMT, reminding people how to take precautions. “Wash them hands for 20 seconds and keep them clean with the Germ-X.”
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