Organizers still shaken after shooting at Stop the Violence event

- Highlands County detectives hope to arrest at least five more people in connection to a shooting at  a weekend "Stop the Violence" rally in Avon Park, Sheriff Susan Benton said Monday.

At about 5:30 Saturday evening, the event, that at one point had about 500 children and parents in attendance, was winding down when gunshots erupted.

"Can you imagine, just being out there with the little kids and you hear all this, and you're running for your life? I just can't imagine those little ones trying to go to sleep that night," said Sheriff Susan Benton.

More than 40 shots were fired.

Benton said investigators believe this was the latest flare-up in an ongoing feud between two groups of people from Avon Park and Sebring.

Two people, including a 5-year-old, were shot, but neither were seriously hurt. Several other cars and homes were also struck by bullets.

"What fuels that, what carries that forward from generation to generation; I wish I had a magic wand to figure it out," the sheriff said. "It's so sad to me that, as hard as this community works in Avon Park to stop the violence... then you have these long-standing feuds that we just can't make headway on."

Deputies have arrested Jaquarius Nagee Watson, 22, in connection with the shooting.

Jacquelyn Lockhart helped organize the event at Aline McWhite Park and said she's still shaken up.

"Once I heard the gunshots and stuff, my first concern was the babies out here, the parents out here, to get them to safety, so we started pushing everybody on the other side, away from the fire," she told FOX 13 News. "Very scary... I'm still shaking, I'm still crying on the inside. I haven't even had a chance to break down yet for myself."

Lockhart said she wanted to help put together the event to target the violence that has been plaguing parts of the county. She also invited deputies out to play with the children.

"I thought we could come together, bring Sebring, Avon Park, Lake Placid together as a whole, [and] then we  can show them, we can sit down, we can talk, share our values together and put this event together," she said, adding it's a miracle a child wasn't killed, and she hopes this serves as a wake-up call to the county. "I believe that God has purpose in that. There was a reason for that, and to show the community that we need to come together as one."

Deputies hoped to make more arrests by the end of the day Monday and said more may be coming after that.

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