In Florida town, fear of looting in wake of Hurricane Michael

A sign seen in Panama City, Fla. as looting was being reported after Hurricane Michael. (WEAR)

As emergency crews struggle to restore running water and electricity in Panama City, some residents are apparently growing desperate.

“This [storm] hit so hard and so fast that, the different aspects of human nature is going to come out, and people are going to do anything to survive,” resident Christopher Donahue said.

Communication is limited in the wake of Hurricane Michael, but police, fire, EMS, and utility workers have swarmed the city trying to get it back online.

While that work continues, WEAR reporters have seen evidence of looting, including businesses with broken doors and shattered windows. At one convenience store, they encountered men loading a backpack with items who claimed to be friends of the owner.

Another resident reported a shooting after seeing a man trying to steal a law enforcement vehicle.

“He yelled at me a little bit, he said, ‘Oh, I’m looting,’ and he opened the door to the police officer’s SUV with the lights going, got in it and shut the door," said Landon Swett.

Swett said he immediately took his family inside, but he heard gunshots soon after. A Florida Highway Patrol official said state fire marshals were involved in the shooting, but few details were available. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed it is investigating the incident.

A curfew remained in effect from dusk until dawn Friday in Panama City.

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