Body found inside burning car, 3 shot after Ga. man on vacation goes on shooting spree, deputies say

SANDESTIN, Fla. — A shooting spree at a popular Florida vacation spot ended with one person killed, several injured and the suspect shot by deputies. Deputies have identified the suspect as a Georgia man.

Gunner Cole, 21, of Warner Robins, faces multiple charges for the shootings that happened Thursday night in Sandestin, according to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.

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“[We] believe he was on here on vacation and no ties to the area that we are aware of. He came here for a party and ultimately made a decision that’s going to impact families for the rest of their lives,” Capt. Dustin Cosson said at a news conference.

Around 11 p.m. Thursday, Walton County deputies responded to a call on U.S. 98 when they heard gunfire in the area. They tracked down the gunfire and said they came face-to-face with Cole.

That is when the sheriff’s office said the 21-year-old started shooting at them. The deputies fired back and shot Cole, then took him into custody. At the same time, the sheriff’s office started receiving calls about multiple shooting victims.


One gunshot victim was found at Baytowne Wharf, a popular restaurant and shopping plaza. Another was found in a Marriott hotel parking lot and a third victim showed up at an emergency room.

Investigators also responded to a crash near the hospital where deputies found a body inside a burning car. The sheriff’s office said it appears the body belonged to another shooting victim who crashed on their way to the hospital.

At a news conference, Sheriff Michael Adkinson said there was no prior relationship between Cole and any of the victims.

“What makes this particularly chilling to me, quite frankly, this could happen anywhere. This is not an indictment, certainly not of Sandestin or any of that community. It’s a very safe community. This is one of those things that I think we all fear, which is those random acts of violence that can occur anywhere. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in.”

As of Tuesday morning, Cole remains hospitalized and has not been booked into the Walton County, Fla. jail.

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