Nov. 8 Update: The State Attorney today filed charges against Timothy Draper following the October 29 shooting incident at Herschel King park in Flagler County. He was charged with knowingly and willfully discharging a firearm from a vehicle, within 1,000 feet of a person, a second degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. He was also charged with using a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, a second-degree misdemeanor.
Riding and Shooting a .22 at Herschel King Park, With Baby on Board, Leads to Arrest
October 30–Late Monday evening, authorities got word that someone was firing a gun at Herschel King Park, off of Colbert Lane in Palm Coast.
The caller to 911 had described a vehicle going into the park, then hearing two rounds being fired from what he believed to be a .22-caliber rifle, just after the vehicle had gone in. A third round was fired shortly afterward, the caller reported, from Grady Prather Drive, just before the vehicle was leaving the park.
A Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy reporting swiftly to the scene saw a Chevrolet truck leaving the park. The deputy stopped the truck. Jeremy Blackwelder, 26, of Wheaton Lane in Palm Coast, was at the wheel. Timothy Draper, 26, of Pierson, was in the passenger seat, with a black rifle between his legs. The barrel was pointing toward the floor. Two women were in the truck–26-year-old Melinda Blackwelder, and 21-year-old Merrandia Shope. So was a child in a car seat in the rear.
After a deputy spoke with the Chevrolet’s occupants, Both Blackwelders and Shope told the deputy that Draper had fired the rifle–a Marlin Firearms Co. .22–while they were riding around in the park. He did so, according to one of the occupants, as the truck was being driven along the circular dirt road near the restrooms. Deputies found a live round in the chamber and two live rounds in the rifle’s magazine.
“During the investigation,” the deputy reported, “I detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on Timothy’s breath. Post Miranda, he advised that he had been consuming beer during the night. Jeremy refused to cooperate during the investigation and continuously advised that a gun was never fired, but could not explain why one was between his legs during the traffic stop.”
The deputy added: “Let it be noted that Grady Prather Drive runs parallel to streets in the Grand Haven Community and Herschel King Park is within 1,000 feet of residences.” No other vehicles had gone into, or left, the park during the investigation, and none were located in the park.
Draper was charged with discharging a firearm in public, a felony, and possessing or using a firearm while under the influence of alcohol. He posted $2,000 bond and was released.
Blackwelder was not arrested, though he’d twice been booked at the Flagler County jail before–on a battery charge in April, and a drunk driving charge four years ago.
Guns are not disallowed in public parks, including county parks, and Florida law prohibits local governments from restricting firearms in public parks, public buildings or near schools, for example. But firing a gun in public–absent extenuating circumstances–is still against the law.