TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A 6-year-old boy was slightly injured on Sunday when he fired a gun at Ballast Point Park after finding the weapon in a diaper bag.
Police say the boy suffered a small abrasion to his upper lip from the recoil of the gun. Tampa Police Department investigators responded to the shooting at 3:52 p.m. Investigators say Ricardo Candelario Marquez, 36, was at the park and had put his gun in his girlfriend’s diaper bag. Marquez then left the bag unattended by a picnic table and walked to the Ballast Point Park fishing pier.
Bella Villa, 9 was enjoying the weather with friends in an organized group when the shot rang out.
“All of a sudden we heard a big boom,” said Villa. “I thought it was a gun and then all of us started freaking out and we didn’t really know what to do.”
Her mother drove to the park as quickly as she could when she received a call about what had happened.
“It’s a pretty traumatic thing that happened to them and I don’t know how by the grace of God, thank God no one got hurt,” said Julie Villa.
Investigators say the 6-year-old boy found the gun and discharged one round. The TPD officer who responded to the 911 call said that he saw Marquez attempt to discard the firearm into Tampa Bay.
Marquez, who has a concealed weapons permit, was arrested and charged with culpable negligence and tampering with physical evidence.
There were many people at the park, including kids attending girls empowerment gathering.
Police say no one else was injured. The bullet has not been found. Ballast Point Park is located at 5300 Interbay Blvd. in Tampa.
“You think a park is safe and where you can go and these girls were innocent in a park doing positive things and for something like this to happen is just a tragedy,” said Julie Villa.
Ballast Point Park is often packed with children and families on the weekends.
“Sunday is one of the busiest days of the week for us, so it was very odd to see the commotion. It’s a safe place. There are kids. I don’t know what happened. We were all very surprised,” said Nei Martins, who works at the Taste of Boston restaurant in Ballast Point Park.