The large “Project X” party in Mount Dora on July 17 drew crowds that exceeded the capacity of Mieluz Grand Hall, according to the Mount Dora Police Department.
A fire inspection previously scheduled for today, resulted in code violations for unpermitted work, according to Mount Dora Police Chief, John O'Grady. As a result, the venue is closed until it becomes compliant with code.
The 35,000 square-foot venue located at 2728 Old U.S. 441 has a capacity of 522 people and is licensed to host large events. After heavy social media promotion as “one of the biggest parties in Central Florida,” the event attracted an estimated 1,100 partygoers. Charter bus rides from Orlando were offered on Facebook charging an extra $20 for partygoers without an I.D.
O'Grady stated preparations were made in advance of the event after they received information that Orange County “Project X” events drew large crowds and had a history of criminal activity. Assistance was sought by Lake County Sheriff’s Office in anticipation of potential issues.
MDPD sought counsel from an LCSO expert on obtaining an injunction against an event with a history of violence. Because the venue was legally licensed to hold large events and had no history of violence in Lake County, MDPD was reportedly advised there were no grounds for an injunction. As a result, MDPD & LCSO implemented an operational plan with approximately 10 law enforcement officers in attendance when the party began.
The venue may have oversold tickets, police were later informed, resulting in approximately 500-700 partygoers who claimed to have tickets being turned away. The over-attendance caused the venue’s parking and the large shopping center parking lot across the street to be filled with vehicles.
According to O'Grady, as the outside crowd’s frustration grew, officers called for additional assistance from LCSO and surrounding agencies, resulting in a total of approximately 25 officers. Law enforcement officers were able to calm the crowd and move them toward their vehicles. A previously planned traffic pattern was put into place, so when vehicles began exiting both lots at 1:45 a.m., it was done orderly.
Videos posted to social media showed a chaotic scene outside Mieluz Grand Hall when a group of females got into a fight. As a result, two people were tased and arrested. There were no reports of incidents inside the event.
During that fight incident, at approximately 2:30 a.m., LCSO received 911 calls regarding two vehicles firing guns in a neighborhood adjacent to one of the parking lots. Upon deputies’ arrival on the scene at Sheridan Road near Greenway, two black males were located, both having sustained gunshot wounds. One was a 21-year old Orlando man found in a car, deceased. A second victim was located nearby and transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center where he underwent surgery.
If the venue reopens, MDPD will provide them with a minimum number of days to notify the department of large events to enable better preparation and to research incidents of violence.
The department is also making every effort to ensure that Project X events don't occur in the city. Body and dash camera videos will be reviewed for any violations of ordinances, state statutes or fire codes by the venue.