Majestic Princess Cruise shooting: Palm Beach woman hit by stray bullet while on board July 4 cruise

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Palm Beach resident celebrating the Fourth of July on a cruise ship just off the island was shot last night by what appeared to be a stray bullet, according to ship and city officials.

The woman, who is possibly in her 60's, was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center, according to West Palm Beach Police spokesman Allan Ortman.

As of this afternoon, her condition is unknown.

The woman was the second woman shot during the night, and the fifth overall from the area: three teenagers also were shot. The second woman and the three teens suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to West Palm Beach Police spokesman Allan Ortman.

The incident involving the Palm Beach woman occurred aboard the Majestic Princess Cruise. Ship authorities told dispatchers that a woman on board was reporting she was hurt by either a firework or a bullet around 9:30 p.m.

Ortman confirmed this morning that the woman had been hit by a stray bullet.

This morning, West Palm Beach Police detectives determined that the ship was in Palm Beach's jurisdiction when the woman was shot and handed the investigation over to Palm Beach Police.

Palm Beach Police spokesman Fred Hess said detectives are trying to determine if the bullet was from an accidental shooting, an intentional shooting or if the bullet was "shot by some stupid person shooting bullets into the sky."

Ken Gibson, captain of the Majestic Princess, said the incident happened just after the West Palm Beach fireworks ended. He was steering his boat northward when crew members told him a woman on the third deck had fallen to the ground hurt. He said the ship's medical staff tended to the woman while he called the U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities.

Gibson said when he got to the third deck, he was told by witnesses that the woman had said "I think I've been shot."

"We looked at her immediately," he said. "She had a rather small wound above her chest."

Gibson said that because of the size of his boat, he rushed north to the Riviera Beach Marina, where Riviera Beach Fire Rescue was waiting to take the woman to St. Mary's Medical Center.

"Everybody was having a good time," Gibson said. "It was very unfortunate. This is the first time I've had that happen."

Following that incident, West Palm Beach Police responded to another report of a woman hit by a stray bullet, at Coleman Park.

City police and fire rescue teams were dispatched to 21st Street near the park just after 10 p.m. When they arrived, they found a 40-year-old West Palm Beach woman suffering from a gunshot wound to her chest, Ortman said.

Officers said the woman was celebrating the holiday with her family when she was hit by a stray bullet, Ortman said.

Fire rescue crews rushed the woman to St. Mary's Medical Center, where she is expected to make a full recovery, Ortman said.

Less than an hour later, three teenagers were shot just blocks away from Coleman Park.

Crews were dispatched just after 11 p.m. to the area near Cheerful Street and Spruce Avenue. When they arrived, they found three teen-aged boys with gunshot wounds to their legs, Ortman said.

At least two of the boys were taken to St. Mary's. None suffered life-threatening injuries, he added.

Preliminary reports were that the three boys were shooting off fireworks when two other teenagers approached from behind and began firing guns at the them, Ortman said. Police are still searching for the two armed teens.

Staff writer Alexandra Seltzer contributed to this story.


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