Three arrested in Florida over alcohol ban and crowd size

Crime

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — The Bay County Sheriff’s Office arrested three people Wednesday on the sandy beaches that were gathered for a house party, spilling out onto the sandy beaches with alcoholic beverages and in large numbers.

“They were in direct violation of both the Governor’s Order concerning crowds and a local ordinance banning alcohol on the beach in March,” officials wrote in a news release

At about 2:30 p.m. a deputy patrolling along the shore heard loud music and encountered a large group of people on the sand and at a residence on Surf Drive near Beach Access 18. A large number of people at the house party and their disregard for law enforcement were making it difficult to maneuver emergency vehicles around or through the crowd, deputies wrote.

“The number of people gathered were in direct violation of Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order 20-68, referring to gatherings of people that now must be limited to groups of 10 separated from each other by six feet due to COVID-19,” officials wrote. “The crowd had been warned already by another deputy for the need to comply with the Order and had spread out but appeared disorganized and drinking alcoholic beverages, a violation of a local county ordinance banning alcohol on the sandy beaches in March in Bay County.”

Claire Elizabeth Brewer, 20, from Missouri, was placed under arrest for possession of an alcoholic beverage on the sandy beach.

Sierra Van-Olden, 20, also from Missouri, was seen attempting to hide an alcoholic beverage under a towel. She, too, was arrested on the same charge.

Another BCSO deputy arrived to assist. The crowd began yelling and arguing about the arrests. They were agitated and appeared intoxicated, officials wrote.

“One woman, Leah Elledge, 22, of Missouri, began arguing loudly with the deputies and agitating the crowd,” deputies wrote.

She was placed under arrested for Disorderly Conduct.

Sheriff Tommy Ford is putting additional resources on beach patrol to enforce all state and local laws, officials added.

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