Ginnie Springs to limit visitors, retain security expert 

Gilchrist County Commission Chair Bill Martin discussed new safety measures at Ginnie Springs following two Memorial Day weekend shootings that killed two people and injured two others.
Gilchrist County Commission Chair Bill Martin discussed new safety measures at Ginnie Springs following two Memorial Day weekend shootings that killed two people and injured two others.
Courtesy of First Coast News

Ginnie Springs has introduced new safety measures following two shootings that left two dead and two injured over Memorial Day weekend and a discussion with the Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners on Monday. 

The commission voted Monday to create a committee for improving safety at Ginnie Springs, which will include members from the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) and other county departments. 

Taylor Skiles, part owner of Ginnie Springs, spoke at the meeting. She said Ginnie Springs’ primary purpose at the meeting was to listen, but its secondary purpose was to share the initial changes it was making to improve park safety and security. 

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

“We are deeply concerned and upset about the incidents that took place during Memorial Day weekend, and the lives of those impacted,” Skiles told the board. “We recognize that we must take action to ensure a safe environment for guests and staff.” 

Ginnie Springs’ new measures include a limit on park capacity, strengthened relationships with law enforcement, increased staffing on holiday weekends and other busy times, retaining a third-party security expert, increased visibility for park rules and policies, and more resources and training for park staff. 

Skiles’ legal counsel, Matson Coxe, told the commission that Ginnie Springs would not comment further on the situation, as there is still an open investigation. 

The separate shootings led to two investigations proceeding on separate tracks. GCSO arrested two brothers in connection with the first murder, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is still investigating the second shooting.  

Ginnie Springs part owner Taylor Skiles at Monday's Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners meeting to discus new safety measures at the park.
Courtesy of First Coast News Ginnie Springs part owner Taylor Skiles at Monday’s Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners meeting to discus new safety measures at the park.

As of Monday, FDLE told Mainstreet it had made no arrests and was still investigating the May 25 incident.  

County Administrator Bobby Crosby said Ginnie Springs has been active in reaching out to look for solutions. He proposed that the county should work with Ginnie Springs to develop a collective agreement to improve the situation. 

“Great to hear that they’re already being proactive and working on some things,” Chair Bill Martin said at the meeting. “Hopefully we can get this thing all back under control, and it be safe for everybody… My heart goes out with the families, and hopefully we can keep it from happening again.” 

The 4th of July holiday was a buzzword at the meeting, as it is expected to be another high-attendance day for Ginnie Springs, like Memorial Day weekend. Commissioner Sharon Akins Langford said the problem may not be completely solved by the next holiday, but there should be significant progress. 

“It has to be a safer place,” Akins Langford said. “And we also have to make it better for the residents who live out there.” 

Sheriff Bobby Schultz said he was encouraged by what he had heard from Skiles, but asked that the commission include the sheriff’s office in any future discussions of the topic. He also asked that the meetings be done quickly to have preparations and information ready for the 4th of July holiday. 

Schultz said he does not anticipate problems over the July 4th weekend, but he also noted that he did not anticipate the problems that led to the Memorial Day shootings. In a press conference last week, Schultz estimated the park held about 20,000 guests that weekend, more than the county’s entire population. 

“I think we all would agree that we’re all frustrated, and it’s got to get better,” Schultz said at the commission meeting. “It’s gonna get better… let’s see if we can’t put words into action. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for action.” 

Vice Chair Darrell Smith made a motion to authorize the county attorney to work with another attorney to create a “Ginnie Springs committee,” including representatives from the sheriff’s office, Gilchrist County Fire Rescue, the county administrator and legal counsel, as well as Ginnie Springs. Schultz said he would also have the legal counsel for the sheriff’s office attend the meetings. 

Commissioner Kenrick Thomas seconded the motion, and the board voted unanimously to approve it, with Commissioner Tommy Langford absent from the meeting. 

A full video of the meeting can be found here

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Shanti Vani

It is sad that we live in a world where people open fire on one another. What can we do together to make our world safer? Let’s start a conversation. My first thought is build connections among us.

adam wendling

Ginnie Springs is doing its best to destroy a natural wonder. From bottling up unimaginable amounts of water to mobs trampling everything in sight. Ridiculous. 20,000 people! How is that allowed? Last year, a woman was killed after falling off a truck and getting ran over at Ginnie Springs. Now, two separate shootings! Where else in the world would you have a water attraction where people are dying from getting ran over and shot? Why is this place still in business?