Lockdown in Osceola County, Florida means party time for local gangs.
For the past few months “unsavory” people have been renting vacation homes in gated communities and holding huge COVID-19 parties in hopes of spreading the disease, according to Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson. The parties often spillover into the residential streets and over 600 complaints have been made.
“Last week someone, some folks in the crowd threw some fireworks at the deputies that were there. They did the right thing, they backed out, they waited for extra resources to arrive and then we went in and took care of the party,” Gibson told ClickOrlando. “We dispersed it.” A gun was later recovered from that party.
The parties, which range in size from 50 to 100 people, attract gang members from all parts of Central Florida.
“There are some gangs that are renting these houses and they’re coming here to Osceola County. And this is something that we have to protect our residents with,” Gibson told the website. In April a man was killed at one of these house parties in Davenport in nearby Polk County.
The sheriff is also concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in the county, which has had 5,556 coronavirus cases, 248 hospitalizations and 38 deaths — and blames the parties for the spike.
“They’re being referred to, from what I’m being told, as COVID-19 parties where they’re actually getting together and they’re trying to mingle to potentially spread the virus amongst each other if they’re asymptomatic or whatever the case might be,” Gibson said. “We’ve just seen a tremendous spike just here in Osceola County.”
Residents of the gated communities are “living a life of terror right now,” Gibson added.
“These are real situations, very dangerous situations, and our residents are afraid, you know, and we don’t want that,” he said. “And we don’t want to feel like, other than dispersing this, that we’re powerless and they just continue to happen. Osceola County can’t be listed as party central or COVID-19 party central.”