Late-night shooting near Siesta Drive drawbridge prompts Sarasota Police Department investigation

Two 21-year-old male victims suffer non-life-threatening injuries

The Sarasota Police Department is investigating a shooting in the 1300 block of Siesta Drive in Sarasota that took place about 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, it announced.

Two men — both 21 years old — suffered non-life-threatening injuries, a Police Department news release said. Witnesses transported the men to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for treatment, the release added.

The location of the incident was a park-like area south of the Siesta Drive drawbridge and east of Siesta Key.

The site encompasses a cluster of palm trees, as shown in a photo on Google Maps.

When Sarasota Police officers arrived at the scene, the release said, witnesses reported that “a large party was happening when a fight started for unknown reasons.”

Officers believe this was an isolated incident and that the public is not in any danger, the release pointed out.

“The incident remains an active and ongoing investigation,” the release added. Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to call the Sarasota Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 941-263-6070, leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS, or go online at

The post about the incident on the Police Department’s Facebook page had drawn 30 comments by midafternoon on March 16, The Sarasota News Leader found.

Among the comments, one woman wrote, “Spring Break is always an issue.”

This week, the Sarasota County School District is observing spring break, along with the districts in Manatee and Charlotte counties, Sgt. Dan Smith, leader of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office substation on Siesta Key, told Siesta Key Association (SKA) members during their meeting on March 2.

Another person commenting on the Police Department’s Facebook post put the blame on homeowners “who are renting to the spring breakers.”

One woman added a post saying, “Stupid spring breakers,” to which a man responded, “Big assumptions there … I really find it hard to believe … that some teenagers from Indiana would travel all this way with a gun! 10 to 1 odds, local clowns …”

Yet another man wrote on the Facebook thread, “Bunch of kids at bridge this morning!”

During the March 2 SKA meeting, members complained to Sgt. Smith about large groups of young people showing up more regularly on the beach on holiday weekends.

On Memorial Day 2022, Sheriff’s Office deputies contended with a shooting that injured one person, but none of the witnesses would identify the person who had wielded the gun, Sheriff Kurt Hoffman told SKA members during an August 2022 presentation.

During the  March 2 SKA meeting, Sgt. Smith said the Key potentially could see even larger spring break crowds this year because Fort Myers Beach remains closed as a result of the damage it suffered during Hurricane Ian’s landfall in September 2022.

Moreover, Smith reported that Sheriff’s Office personnel generally has dealt with more problems created by high school students over the years, compared to incidents involving college students on the island during spring break period.

The Sheriff’s Office increases its personnel on the Key significantly during spring break season, as leaders of the island substation have noted in the past.