Cabana Sands shooting prompts club safety discussion

by Mallory Culhane

Five people were shot on Thursday, Dec. 26 in the parking lot of Cabana Sands, a club in St. Petersburg, Florida. The shooting is causing some University of Tampa students to be concerned about the possible lack of safety procedures in place at local clubs.

The shooting at Cabana Sands resulted after groups of club goers had gotten into an altercation at the bar and were kicked out. The situation escalated in the parking lot when shots rang out, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Though five people were shot, there were no fatalities.

The Tampa Bay Times also reported that so far, the St. Petersburg Police Department has not made an arrest in association with the incident.

“I have never felt unsafe in any clubs around [Tampa] but I also feel like they are unprepared for such a situation,” said Reese Yost, sophomore marine science biology major and a frequent club goer at the Hyde Park Café (HPC).

On June 12, 2016, 49 people died in Orlando at the Pulse Nightclub. Since then, there have been 86 mass shootings in Florida, according to the Gun Violence Archives.

Many UT students frequent local clubs on the weekends such as HPC and The Kennedy, located just a few minutes from campus down W. Kennedy Boulevard.  

Despite the wide popularity of these clubs among students, some have taken note of limited safety precautions.

No baggy attire or bandanas are allowed at HPC or The Kennedy according to their websites, although there is no mention of other security measures.

“They don’t check you as you enter or have any precautions in place to stop an event like what happened in St. Pete before it even happens,” said Yost.

Yost said that implementing minimal safety procedures, though elongating the process of getting people into the club and longer wait times, is important.

“I think the best safety procedure…is just a simple pat down or walk through a metal detector,” said Yost. “It would stop people from being able to get into the club with any kind of weapon.”

The clubs’ websites also do not state what size, if any, of bags are allowed inside. Many students have brought purses and bags into the clubs and are not always being searched.

“They sometimes ask to look in my bag but they have never actually searched it and sometimes they don’t check it at all,” said an anonymous UT sophomore.

The student regularly brings a purse when she goes to HPC. “I carry around something that is meant for stabbing someone for self-defense and they have never said anything to me about it,” said the student. “So, if I can get in with that I can only imagine what other people get in with.”

In the event that there was an emergency at one of the clubs, many students aren’t clear on what to do or how to get out.

“I don’t know how I would react if something were to happen,” said the student. “It takes about five minutes to get to the closest exit.”

Especially in a crowded club, finding an exit can be difficult in a situation of chaos.  

“There are multiple exits but there are so many people there that I don’t know if it would be easy to exit,” said Yost. “I am not exactly sure about that just due to the number of people there.”

When contacted for comment on safety procedures and policies, HPC and The Kennedy did not respond.

Mallory Culhane can be reached at

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