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There was a fatal shooting at this year’s ‘Jeep Week’ event on Texas Gulf Coast. Here’s what to know

May 20, 2024, 1:30 PM

CRYSTAL BEACH, Texas (AP) — A popular event drew tens of thousands of visitors over the weekend to Texas Gulf Coast beaches, where a fatal shooting erupted and nearly 300 people were arrested, authorities said Monday.

Three separate shootings were reported Saturday on the Bolivar Peninsula during the annual “Jeep Week” event, including one that left one person dead and two others injured, according to Galveston County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Ray Nolen.

Here are some things to know about the event this year.

WHAT HAPPENED ON SATURDAY?

An estimated 100,000 people and more than 30,000 vehicles crammed into a six-mile stretch of Crystal Beach on Saturday for the culmination of the Jeep Week event near Galveston, Nolen said.

Authorities had not identified any suspects in the most serious shooting on Saturday where one person was killed near Crystal Beach. Another shooting victim was airlifted to an area hospital and was in stable condition Monday, while a third was shot in the hand, Nolen said. Police arrested 295 people over the weekend on an assortment of charges, but mostly for disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and fighting.

Authorities were prepared with more than 170 officers on duty for the weekend, and they made a record-high number of arrests at the event, he said.

WHAT IS ‘JEEP WEEK’?

The annual event began more than a decade ago and drew mostly Jeep enthusiasts from Texas and Louisiana.

“It was a family-fun, friendly event, which we didn’t have any problems with,” Nolen said.

But in the last three or four years, the event ballooned in size and started attracting owners of motorcycles, utility-terrain vehicles, pickup trucks and a variety of vehicles for off-highway use.

In recent years, several Jeep clubs have pulled out of the event and distanced themselves from “Jeep Week.”

HOW ARE LOCALS REACTING?

What was once a popular tourist attraction that drew tens of thousands of patrons to local businesses has now become a headache for many who live in the area.

After more than 100 people were arrested in 2019, local residents started an online petition to end the event. The following year two people were shot.

This year, several businesses, including beach-side bars and restaurants and a local grocery store, shut down for the weekend. Traffic jams made it difficult for employees to get to and from work, the grocery store saw a sharp spike in shoplifting and restaurants reported dozens of people skipping out of paying their tabs, Nolen said.

Mike Gilbert, the owner of Latitude 29.2 Surf Shop on Crystal Beach, kept his shop open during the day and didn’t have any problems, although he acknowledged things got pretty rowdy Saturday night.

“I had no problems being open and no concerns,” Gilbert said. “I think it could have been better if families hadn’t been scared to come down here and be on the beach.”

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There was a fatal shooting at this year’s ‘Jeep Week’ event on Texas Gulf Coast. Here’s what to know