Man from Jacksonville killed in 1 of 2 shootings at Ginnie Springs over Memorial Day weekend

GILCHRIST COUNTY, Fla. — A Jacksonville man was killed in one of two shootings that happened over Memorial Day weekend at a popular North Central Florida camping spot.

The Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office said in a news conference on Tuesday that Koty Stewart was killed in a shooting at Ginnie Springs in the early hours of Saturday morning.


GCSO Sgt. Benita Rolling said deputies got the call about the first shooting around 12:39 a.m. Saturday.

When authorities responded, there were around 20,000 people on the campground. Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz said it “was more like a rave party than it was a campground.”

“That place is a disaster as far as crowd control situation,” Undersheriff Robert Willis said of Ginnie Springs.

Two men were arrested in Stewart’s fatal shooting:

  • Fisher Dalton Watts, 18, of St. Marys, Ga., was arrested in Camden County, Ga., and charged with first-degree murder. He ran away to Georgia after the shooting and will be extradited to Gilchrist County, Rolling said.
  • Watts’ brother Dallas Jordan Watts, 21, also of St. Marys, was arrested in Gilchrist County and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and resisting an officer.
Fisher Dalton Watts (left) and Dallas Jordan Watts.

The shooting that killed Stewart stemmed from a dispute over parking spots, Willis said.

The second shooting happened Saturday around 11:30 p.m. GCSO said it had to call in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to take the lead in the investigation of the second shooting, as its investigators had been working on the first shooting all day.

Will Porter, Special Agent in Charge, FDLE Gainesville, said the second shooting resulted from a large fight. A suspect pulled out a gun, shot into a crowd, and hit “three innocent bystanders,” Porter said.

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Two of those people had minor injuries and one person had serious injuries, Porter said.

FDLE’s investigation is continuing, Porter said. Anyone with information or video from the incident is asked to contact FDLE at 386-462-9975.

Park management shut down Ginnie Springs on Sunday morning at the request of GCSO, but Willis said he would have liked it to have been shut down soon after the first shooting.

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Other agencies that assisted GCSO in the investigations are the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Florida Highway Patrol, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Dixie County Sheriff’s Office, Gilchrist County Fire Rescue, Gilchrist County Emergency Management, and the 8th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office.

Willis said that GCSO would be speaking with the county commission about Ginnie Springs’ permit situation, as he said the concentration of people in the area and their use of intoxicants has led to issues this weekend and in the past.

“The issue with Ginnie Springs is not new,” he said. “We’ve been dealing with an escalation of problems at that location for years.”

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Schultz said while GCSO is always proactive when it comes to patrolling Ginnie Springs, he said deputies cannot control what people come to their county and what they do.

“What we can control are people like this who come into our county and wreak havoc here,” Schultz said, holding up copies of the Watts brothers’ mugshots.

Willis said that there would be a heavy presence of GCSO deputies for the next upcoming holiday, the Fourth of July.

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Amanda Winkle

Amanda Winkle, Action News Jax

Amanda Winkle is the digital content manager for Action News Jax.

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