DELRAY BEACH, Florida — It’s the Hatfields vs. the McCoys, Florida style.
A nearly decade-long feud between two families in Delray Beach has led to its stunning 47th shooting, cops say.
The latest gun violence between the James and the Johnson clans left 25-year-old Patrick Palmer — an innocent bystander and former athlete — with significant, but not life-threatening injuries in a drive-by shooting on Monday, police said.
The bloody quarrel dates back to 2009 when two men got into a fight at a nightclub. “Now it’s expanded to associates of the families who keep shooting back and forth,” Delray Beach Police spokeswoman Dani Moschella told the Sun Sentinel.
No one quite remembers what the fight was about, but the violence began to escalate in 2014, with cops saying the bulk of the shootings happening since then. In all, five people have been killed and several children and innocent bystanders shot.
Very few arrests have been made, because family members on both sides have been reluctant to talk to police, the department says.
Shockingly, cops say they don’t believe the fighting has anything to do with drug dealing or gang violence — it simply stems from bad blood between the to families.
For years, police and local clergy have attempted to broker a peace between the two sides but with little success. Older members of the families say the bad blood isn’t universal.
“I just wish they all would stop this foolishness because they’re shooting innocent people,” Sheralita Johnson said in 2014. “So what a fight took place years ago or whatever? I don’t care. It was a fight, we had it, we’re done and we’re through with it. Just let it go.”
Police say neither side, however, has shown much sign of wanting to bring the violence to an end.
“Our department is doing everything it possibly can, from thorough investigations to extra patrols to constant community engagement,” Moschella said. “What we lack in this feud, and what is essential to solving most serious crimes, is cooperation from witnesses, victims and their families.”