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3 dead, 8 wounded after shots fired into a crowd of hundreds following Texas holiday festival

Police Chief Neil Noakes said the community refused to let the violence stop it from celebrating; Hundreds turned out for the parade less than 12 hours later


Amanda McCoy /Star-Telegram via AP

By Emerson Clarridge, Abby Church, Harrison Mantas and Gabriel Trevino
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FORT WORTH, Texas — Three people were killed and eight were wounded late Monday when gunmen fired into a crowd at a Como parking lot following the west Fort Worth neighborhood’s annual celebration on the eve of Fourth of July.

The 10 adults and one juvenile who were shot were amid several hundred people gathered after ComoFest on Horne Street at Diaz Avenue about 11:45 p.m., authorities said.

None of the injured people are suspects in the shooting, police said.

Although they were pursuing leads, homicide detectives had not determined the assailants’ names, a Fort Worth police spokesperson said.

People who said they saw the shooting did not know whether the rounds were fired by people who live in Como. Police and Mayor Mattie Parker said the shooting was not related to the earlier festival.

“I choose to believe this is a few bad perpetrators that came into this neighborhood to really wreak havoc,” Parker said Tuesday morning at the end of the neighborhood’s Fourth of July parade, where streets were filled with balloons and children running to catch bags of candy tossed from floats.

Police Chief Neil Noakes said the community refused to let the violence stop it from celebrating. Hundreds turned out for the parade less than 12 hours after the outdoor triple homicide.

”They showed up and were resilient today,” he said.

Cynthia Santos, 22, was among those who died at a hospital, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Paul Timothy Willis, 18, also died, according his mother, Ka’Desha Weatherly. Those who were wounded were at three hospitals in unknown conditions.

A caller to 911 late Monday reported seeing a youth with a gun wearing a red hoodie walking up and down a street, according to a police call log.

At the time of the report, the youth was not pointing the gun at anyone, the caller said. At the time of the shooting, multiple police units were staged nearby.

Law enforcement efforts to thwart and respond to crime continued on the holiday. “We have numerous additional police resources and extra officers working today, staffing a variety of details across the city to provide extra patrol response, high visibility, event security, and rapid response to major events or crowd situations,” a police spokesperson said.

One person was pronounced dead at the Horne Street scene. Several others were taken by private vehicles and ambulances to hospitals.

A person who said they saw the shooting told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram they saw a body at the corner of Geddes Avenue and Horne Street after shots were fired. Parker said she was heartbroken and furious. “We really owe it to this community to kind of unravel what happened and what we can do to prevent it in the future,” she said.

The neighborhood has had a history of violence on July 3 beginning in 1988, when 15 people were arrested during a night when rocks and bottles were thrown at cars.

Eight people were shot in 2021. Police told the Star-Telegram in 2020 that they had had a presence in the neighborhood on July 3 since the 2010s following a meeting with the Como Neighborhood Advisory Council.

That year, a large presence of police and state troopers caught residents off guard during the holiday. Videos of flashing lights were shared on Facebook as people discussed over-policing in the neighborhood.

July 3 parties have occurred in Como since the 1980s. Most were spontaneous, but since 2020, community members organized the celebrations as ComoFest.

The violence that happens in Como is related to what goes on after the community sanctioned events, neighborhood resident Dorothy Dubose said.

“Como often gets a bad wrap for these shootings, but it’s usually people from outside the community who take advantage of our hospitality,” she said.

Council member Jared Williams called Como a resilient community. “What I do know about Como is that they’re a community that is proud of its history, that is actively engaged in building the community of Como, and building the city,” he said.

Parker and Noakes said the police and city leaders will have to work with the community’s leaders to end violent crime. “We know in law enforcement, we can’t do this by ourselves,” Noakes said. “We have to have elected officials step up and do what they need to do. We need community members to partner together with all of us to make sure we’re getting the job done the right way.”

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