Children’s center van riddled with bullets in Fort Pierce shooting

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 6:20 PM EST
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In the chaos of Monday’s mass shooting in Fort Pierce, which occurred at an event that followed a Martin Luther King Jr. parade, a van belonging to a children’s center was hit by several bullets.

"Who would have known that at a Martin Luther King Day event, there would be a shooting like this?" asked Matt Markley, CEO of the Hibiscus Children's Village in Vero Beach.

Markley said six teens, between the ages of 12 and 17, were on an educational trip with a house parent attending the MLK parade. They were enjoying the car show event when they heard the gunshots.

"They were ready to go right away, part of it was the van was not operable," Markley said. "The sheriff told them not to drive the van."

The Hibiscus Children's Village houses teens who are abandoned, abused and neglected and have nowhere else to go.

Markley said 24-hour therapists have been available to help the teens with the experience of the shooting.

The Hibiscus Children's Center has been a presence on the Treasure Coast for 38 years with locations in Jensen Beach and Vero Beach.

They operate with funding from the state, grants and donations, and work to offer the children a safe haven.

"We watch them go from very traumatized kids to very well-adjusted," Markley said.

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