15-year-old Sarasota resident arrested in connection with shooting at Sarasota County Fair

Ansel Acosta taken into custody on March 22

The Sarasota County Fair will continue through March 28. Image from the 2021 Sarasota County Fair website

The Sarasota Police Department has arrested a 15-year-old Sarasota youth in connection with a shooting that occurred inside the gates of the Sarasota County Fairgrounds on Saturday, March 20, the Sarasota Police Department has reported.

The incident occurred just before 10 p.m. that day, a news release said.

Ansel L. Acosta was taken into custody at his home early on Monday, March 22, the release added.

A May 12, 2020 civil traffic citation that Acosta received, which was for riding a bicycle at the age of 15 and up with no light or an improper light, listed his address as 2700 Palmadelia Ave. in Sarasota, Sarasota County Clerk of Court records show.

Palmadelia Avenue is just a block east of North Orange Avenue and north of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way in the Newtown community of Sarasota.

That citation was issued by the Police Department.

Acosta also was cited in that incident for having an unlawful number of persons on his bicycle, court records say.

In regard to the shooting incident, the Police Department reported that Acosta is facing three felony charges:

  • Aggravated battery with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
  • Culpable negligence.
  • Brandishing a firearm in public.

“Per [Florida Statute] 985.04 (2) (a) 1.,” the release explained, “information about juveniles charged with felonies is public record.”

The incident “was not an active shooter situation,” the release emphasized. “Sarasota Police detectives are confident this was an isolated incident,” the release added. “[A] verbal argument between two groups of people escalated,” it continued, which resulted in Acosta’s “pulling out a firearm and shooting the victim. Acosta and the victim know each other,” the release pointed out.

The victim, who is an 18-year-old man, remained at Sarasota Memorial Hospital early this week in stable condition and was expected to survive, the release said.

Sarasota Police detectives did learn that additional shots were fired in the parking lot after the Acosta incident, the release continued. Those shots were unrelated to the earlier confrontation, the release added; no one was injured. Detectives believe that someone just fired a gun into the air, the release noted.

The Sarasota County Fair remains open through March 28, the release said. “The Sarasota Police Department has extra officers on patrol at the fairgrounds to continue to keep fairgoers and their families safe.”

Additionally, the release said, the Sarasota Police Department is coordinating and taking a more active role in the execution of the security plans for the Sarasota County Fair for the duration of the event. Plans have been developed in consultation with a private security company working under contract with the Sarasota County Fair Board, as well as with Sarasota County Fair personnel, the release added.

Employees of the private security company “will be searching bags and using wands on patrons” before people are admitted to the fairgrounds, the release pointed out.

The Acosta case remains under investigation, the release noted. Anyone with information or video related to the incident is asked to call the Sarasota Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 941-263-6070, leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers of Sarasota County by calling 941-366-TIPS, or going online at www.sarasotacrimestoppers.com.