Property owner speaks out about shooting

Posted 2/23/24

A property owner who recently found himself, his family and his friends under fire while...

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.

Already have an account? Log in to continue. Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in
I am anchor

Property owner speaks out about shooting


OKEECHOBEE — A property owner who recently found himself, his family and his friends under fire while enjoying an annual camping trip speaks out.

Last weekend, Feb. 17, James Griffith was one of the approximately 30 people who were camping out on Griffith’s property when they began hearing gunshots coming from nearby.

Griffith said he owns property out on the Prairie and every year, he has a gathering of family and friends. There were approximately 30 people there this year, about half of them children. Most of the visitors stayed in RVs but some were in tents.

As some were getting ready for bed and some were relaxing around campfires, they suddenly heard the gunshots. Griffith said many began screaming trying to get the shooters to recognize they were shooting at people, but the gunfire continued. Griffith said he finds it difficult, if not impossible, to believe the shooters did not hear them as many were screaming in terror.

One of Griffith’s guests peered around the side of his RV to yell out to the shooters, but he was shot in the neck. A woman who was lying in bed with her husband was shot in the thigh. “It was only by the grace of God she was not hurt worse,” said Griffith. He explained the bullet penetrated the side of the couple’s RV and then bounced around before hitting her in the leg.

Multiple weapons were confiscated, but only one person was arrested. That man, Nathanael Santiago Bas Bueno, reportedly admitted to shooting but claimed to have been aiming at a tree and said he had no idea there were people over in that direction. His only charge was for the reckless discharge of a firearm.

Though there were six more men with Bueno, none of them admitted to shooting, and all claimed they did not see anyone shooting.

Griffith said he is planning to look for more rounds that terminated on his property so he can share them with the state attorney. He hopes they might be able to match these with the weapons confiscated. “I believe that by matching the Fingerprints on the triggers, magazines or cartridges along with the rounds themselves we'll help the state attorney prove who else was shooting,” said Griffith.

Though he and all who were at the gathering were traumatized, Griffith said, “We do count ourselves very fortunate under the circumstances that the just about 200 rounds that were fired into our camp that night caused limited damage in that only two people were hit.”

Griffith went on to say the men who were shooting had already been run off of another property earlier in the evening by that property owner. “They were drinking and shooting late at night in the rain. None of this makes any sense,” said Griffith. “They were shooting AK-47s 30-06 40 cal and we found some 9 mm rounds as well.”

Griffith said he was confused as to why only one arrest was made. “People trespassing and shooting from property they have no permission to shoot from is a violation of the law. Shooting at anything with no absolute expectation of terminating the bullet within your property is also violation of the law because you are shooting across property lines at that point. Then add alcohol... All arrestable offenses.”

He added that he spoke to the deputies who responded that night, and they told him they did not think the state prosecutor would pursue charges for unauthorized shooting from someone else’s property or for shooting across property lines.

“I'm hoping that by working with the state attorney that they will seek to prosecute anyone violating these two laws in particular. It's the shooter's responsibility to know whose property he's on and where those property lines are and that he's terminating his bullets within that property with absolute certainty. The people who live in the prairies are haunted weekly by reckless shooting where both these laws are being violated.  We need the deputies and the state attorney to pursue arrests and prosecution of these people. I believe that this is critical for the safe and peaceful enjoyment for those who live in the prairies.”