PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Several businesses closed their doors early Saturday night after a heavy police presence was called to the area for traffic and crowd control.
News 13 spoke to Panama City Beach Police Chief, J.R. Talamantez. As of 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, Beach police confirmed they had shut down Front Beach Road from the intersection of Middle Beach Road all the way west to Richard Jackson Blvd.
Chief Talamantez said pedestrian traffic is extremely heavy but people are staying on the sidewalks.
The traffic gridlock is being caused by vehicles. Chief Talamantez also confirmed that Walmart managers voluntarily shut down the store on Front Beach Road Saturday evening. News 13 has also received reports that Rock’It Lanes closed their doors earlier than their normal closing time.
When asked if people were behaving any worse than typical Spring Breakers, Chief Talamantez said aside from people “acting a fool,” nothing violent is happening at this point.
He said he would not characterize any of the activity as a riot.
Panama City Beach officials also released a statement on Saturday night:
“Panama City Beach expected a large crowd this weekend. We had a plan in place due to the large number of visitors over the weekend. We have approximately 100 officers from our agency, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, Lynn Haven Police Department, Panama City Police Department and Florida Highway Patrol along with other surrounding agencies to provide service to our residents, visitors and businesses. We have partnered with our local businesses to close their parking lots when their businesses are closed or to close their doors early if needed. We encourage our residents to call our police dispatch if they need anything and to remember we are here as a city to protect everyone.”