On July 21, the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office arrested a man wanted in connection with a shooting at a bar called Split Oaks Saloon in Crestview. Officers say that on July 5, 43-year-old Tyrone Morris shot an unidentified 26-year-old man in the leg after an altercation at the bar on James Lee Boulevard. The victim survived the shooting and would eventually pick Morris out of a photo lineup.
Morris was originally found and arrested at North Okaloosa Medical Center on July 13th but escaped from police custody while he was being discharged from North Okaloosa Medical Center and sent to jail. Police found and arrested him again outside of his girlfriend's home on July 21. He's been charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, discharging a firearm in public, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, and escape.
Attorney contributor Michael Haggard would like to briefly discuss the legal options for victims of violent crime in bars and nightclubs:
While the police will handle prosecuting the gunmen after a bar shooting, we should also consider how the legal system can help victims directly. Seeing the guilty party arrested, prosecuted, and found guilty helps provide a sense of justice. However, the criminal justice system does little to directly attend to the needs of shooting victims.
In certain circumstances, owners of bars, nightclubs, and other businesses where a shooting took place can be held liable for damages if the shooting can be attributed to negligence. For example, if the bar owner was aware of high rates of violent crime in the area but failed to take measures to keep their premises safe (such as hiring security guards), the victims of a violent crime on the premises could have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit.