Answers sought after Little Rock stadium gunfire rumors
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas officials are looking into an incident at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock that caused thousands of attendees to frantically flee the stands amid talk of a possible gun threat.
Authorities met at the stadium on Sunday to discuss the Saturday night stampede and how they might better respond to such situations, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Fleeing attendees left behind personal belongings after a fight led to rumors of gunfire . The disturbance caused people to exit the Salt Bowl, a high school rivalry game that drew about 38,000 attendees, according to Little Rock police spokesman Steve Moore.
Police said several people were injured in the stampede, including one person who was trampled and another who injured a leg while jumping over a wall.
“We were in panic mode,” said Steve Jackson, who was at the stadium to see his stepdaughter perform in the Bryant High School band. “People kept saying, ‘Gun, gun, gun,’ but was it a single shooter? Was it a mass-murder situation?”
Jackson said his family hid beneath a set of bleachers but didn’t know details about the threat.
“There are images I have from last night of the eyes and the sheer horror of people now knowing where their child or grandchild was that I will never forget,” said Salt Bowl committee member Shane Broadway. “Unfortunately, our students have been trained for this, and when they saw what they thought was a threat, they ran.”
Arkansas park rangers are working with police to determine if anyone is responsible for the panic, Moore said. The state Department of Parks and Tourism runs the stadium.
There’s no confirmation or evidence of gunfire, Moore said. People likely heard falling metal barricades or a stun gun that was deployed at least twice during the panic.
A security officer confiscated the stun gun from someone in the stadium’s concourse, said parks department spokeswoman Meg Matthews. The stun gun was “dry fired,” which is when the metal prongs of the weapon do not make contact with anyone, Matthews said. That noise could’ve been mistaken for a gunshot, she said.
Parks Director Grady Spann is considering a clear-bag policy and other possible security precautions in addition to the existing written evacuation protocol.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com