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14 arrested, 7 guns recovered in Tampa street racing operation

Police said among those arrested included minors.
Credit: Tampa Police Department

TAMPA, Fla. — Police arrested more than a dozen people during an operation to dismantle a planned street racing event throughout Tampa Bay over Gasparilla weekend.

Among the 14 people arrested, some were minors, police said. Seven guns were also recovered during the operation. 

Tampa police officers caught word of the event on social media dubbed the "Tampa vs Everybody" takeover, the police department said in a news release. It was to take place anytime between Friday, Jan. 27, and Sunday, Jan. 29. Participants were sharing information via social media apps regarding the locations and planned to either race or perform vehicle stunts like "donuts" in the roadways, shutting down streets. 

In the flyer, it gives participants instructions on what to do should a police officer get involved and more on what to do between different locations.

"Take your plates off or hide them. Hide your faces," the flyer reads. "If you are being followed by a cop do not pull up."

Police said some of the participants were expected to be armed with firearms based on information gathered.

"Street racers" were located in multiple areas across Tampa, Hillsborough County and surrounding areas of Tampa Bay. Among those arrested, many were charged with fleeing to elude police, aggravated fleeing to elude police, carrying a concealed firearm and racing on highways.

Zephen McDaniel and Ariel De La Mora, both 18 years old, were charged with fleeing to elude police.

Matthew Jones, 21, Al-walit Morton 18, and two 17-year-olds were charged with aggravated fleeing to elude police. 

Anthony Alvarado, 19, was charged with fleeing to elude police, carrying a concealed firearm and armed possession of a controlled substance.

Harlee Cooper, 18, was charged with carrying a concealed firearm, possession of a controlled substance – mushrooms, and discharging a destructive device, a mortar launcher.

Wayne Warrent Jr., 22, was charged with fleeing to elude police and hit-and-run. And Brody Richardson, 18, and Zackreyiah Stribling, 19, were charged with racing on highways.

"During one of the busiest weekends in Tampa, Gasparilla, Tampa Police worked diligently to locate these racers and bring their reckless behavior to a screeching halt," Interim Police Chief Lee Bercaw said in a statement. "We're thankful for the many residents who saw this event advertised on social media and reached out to police for the safety of their community."

Additional arrests are expected, the police department reports. 

"We want to send a clear message to anyone thinking of copying the actions of these individuals: You WILL get caught, and your next ride will be to jail," Bercaw added.

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