VERO BEACH — A local man was arrested and two others face charges in connection to an unprovoked attack that sparked a shooting earlier this month at the Humiston Beach parking lot, police said. The man, identified by officers as Cody Baird, was part of a large group that punched and kicked an Okeechobee man as he was leaving the area with two friends.
A 17-year-old Okeechobee youth who fired the shots will not be charged under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. The teen told police he was defending his friend.
“The two groups did not know each other. The fight was unprovoked,” Vero Beach police spokesperson Officer Kelsea Marty said. “Several individuals were on top of (the man). The larger local group has a history of picking fights with people.”
Baird, 21, of the 1600 block of 27th Avenue, Vero Beach, was charged on Sept. 21 with battery and possession of marijuana under 20 grams. Baird was held Thursday at the Indian River County Jail without bond.
Police also issued arrest warrants for the man who was shot in the abdomen, Andres Rodriguez, 19, and Wesley Gregory, 20, both of Vero Beach. It was unclear if Rodriguez had been released from the hospital.
“They were the primary aggressors,” Marty said of the three Vero Beach men.
The bullets damaged the windows at Corey’s Pharmacy and Nino’s Cafe.
Police have since added extra overnight patrol units at Humiston Beach. Officers are doing foot patrols and riding around the city in unmarked vehicles to ensure the safety of residents.
“Right now, the main area we are focusing on for this detail is Humiston Park,” Marty said.
The incident happened about 2 a.m. Sept. 3 as the three friends from Okeechobee were leaving the park. Police said a group of about 10 people from Vero Beach – including Baird, Rodriguez and Gregory – approached the trio and wanted to fight them.
The Okeechobee group tried to run away. The Vero Beach group caught up to one of the individuals who fell to the ground and attacked him, police said.
Marty said the 17-year-old grabbed a 9 mm handgun from his friend’s vehicle nearby and shot at the people punching and kicking his friend. The juvenile did not own the weapon, police said.
Marty said the gun was not stolen and was legally owned by one of the individuals from Okeechobee.
Rodriguez suffered one gunshot wound and was flown to HCA Florida Lawnwood Hospital in Fort Pierce. Police interviewed everyone involved, collected witness statements, combed the scene for evidence and reviewed nearby surveillance footage.
Police, along with the state attorney’s office, concluded that the 17-year-old was acting in self-defense and will not face criminal charges under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. The law allows a person to protect themselves if they feel their life or another person’s life is in imminent danger.
Marty said police are enforcing the Humiston Beach Park operating hours, which are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The police department has K-9 officers at Humiston Beach Park every shift, Marty said.