Sadly, whenever tragedy strikes, the looters are not far behind.
It happened in September, when Hurricane Florence struck North Carolina.
And even Hurricane Michael’s devastation in the Florida Panhandle was not enough to stop them from trying to take advantage of others.
The damage we have seen from Michael is indescribable and unprecedented for the Panhandle. I have activated the Emergency Bridge Loan Program for small businesses damaged during Hurricane Michael so they can get back to work as soon as possible. More here- https://t.co/HM17tyEhB9
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) October 12, 2018
However, one particular looter picked the wrong target. In Panama City, Florida, when a looter tried to steal a fire marshal’s SUV on Friday, gunfire ensued. According to WEAR, a witness saw what happened and shared it with them.
Landon Swett saw a man attempting to steal what he thought was a law enforcement SUV. He recounted what happened next, saying the looter “yelled at me a little bit. He said, ‘oh I’m looting,’ and he opened the door to the police officer’s SUV with the lights going, got in it and shut the door.”
WEAR reported that as Swett was trying to get his family to safety, shots were fired. Swett said, “As I’m crossing the doorway, I look back, I saw the officer at the passenger side, I don’t believe the door was open yet … Then I got about three more feet inside, and I heard the shot.”
WEAR noted the shooting was reported as fatal, though the victim is not identified. The station also clarified that, according to “Lt. Eddie Elmore with Florida Highway Patrol” it was not police but “Florida State Fire Marshals (who) were the ones involved in the shooting.”
The incident is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Looting has been a massive problem in Florida, and WEAR reported that some took place right in front of its news crews, showing how brazen looters have become.
In front of cameras, trying to steal fire marshal’s vehicles — it seems anything goes now.
Criminals will come out, it seems, even when the entire region has been laid low by the elements.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) October 14, 2018
But as various signs, warnings, and the report about the shooting indicate, it is a dangerous game looters are playing.
They are literally risking their lives for a quick payoff.
As emergency crews struggle to restore running water and electricity in Panama City, some residents are apparently growing desperate.https://t.co/kNLV9f1cR8
— CBS 21 News (@CBS21NEWS) October 13, 2018
Spotted at a corner store near the Gulf: “Looters will be shot!!!” pic.twitter.com/XIuPQrLea4
— Emily L. Mahoney (@mahoneysthename) October 9, 2018
Panama City resident Christopher Donahue told WEAR how risky it is for looters to play their game.
“This [storm] hit so hard and so fast that, the different aspects of human nature is going to come out, and people are going to do anything to survive,” he said.
A curfew has been set, at least part of which has been to help minimize the looting and keep people safe.
A WPMI report noted that a dusk to dawn curfew has been established, at least part of which is to help curb the looting.
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