City officials are vowing to step up security at future public events after nine teenagers were wounded during a shooting after a high school football game in Mobile over the weekend.
As Lagniappe has reported, 17-year-old Deangelo Parnell is facing nine counts of attempted murder after allegedly opening fire on a crowd at Ladd-Peebles Stadium after the Aug. 30 game between Williamson High School and LeFlore High School. Parnell is a student at LeFlore High School, according to police.
Part of the night’s chaotic scene was captured at the tail end of a livestream video posted to the Mobile County Public School System’s (MCPSS) YouTube channel. In the video, which has since been removed, dozens of people in the stands can been seen scattering in the background as announcers recap the game.
Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste said the shooting started as a fight before Parnell allegedly pulled a gun and started “indiscriminately shooting.” Police have yet to confirm or deny reports from some of Parnell’s friends and family that he may have been bullied or threatened before the incident occurred last week.
When speaking to members of the local media, Battiste also made comments that suggested parents of some of the teens involved may have known some type of confrontation was planned that night.
“We probably have parents that may have known what was going to occur or possibly occur and did not reach out to us,” Battiste said after the shooting. “We’ve charged parents before because of their involvement or failure to act, and we’ll treat this situation like we have others in the past.”
Regardless of the circumstances, Battiste said the shooting at Ladd-Peebles stadium last Friday fits into the troubling trend of teenagers in Mobile resorting to gun violence to resolve disputes with their peers.
“Young people are bringing beef that they have with each other in their neighborhoods to public places and they’re putting other people in harm’s way, and we’re going to have to be more aggressive on our end as a city as to how we hold these individuals accountable,” he said. “It is unacceptable for people not to be able to come out and enjoy an event watching their children play in a football game.”
Parnell turned himself in to authorities the day after the shooting and was booked into the Mobile County Metro Jail on nine counts of attempted murder. A local judge set Parnell’s bond at a combined $540,000 on Monday, though if released, he will be subject to home confinement until his trial. Parnell will also be forbidden to have access to any weapons, contact any of the victims or use social media.
The Mobile County District Attorney’s office has indicated that a higher bond was sought but not granted.
While it was initially reported that 10 people were injured in the shooting, police later confirmed only nine were shot. A 10th person did suffer a seizure after the shooting, and was also transported to a local hospital. All of the victims were between the ages of 15 and 18, and six were quickly treated and released. The exact status of the others was still unclear as of this publication’s press deadline.
In the wake of the shooting, Battiste said he and members of his staff met with MCPSS Superintendent Chresal Threadgill, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and City Councilman Levon Manzie to discuss security enhancements at future public events within the city. The group of officials briefed the media during a public press conference afterward and offered condolences to the victims of the “senseless” act.
“I do want to thank the [MPD] for reacting so quickly, but I want the parents and the community to understand that this is much bigger than just the police or the school system,” Threadgill said. “This is a community issue, and if we don’t come together to fight this, it’s going to continue to happen.”
During his address at the Mobile City Council meeting Tuesday, Stimpson also asked for the community’s assistance in preventing incidents like this in the future.
“There are things that are known by students and by other individuals about people who do want to create harm in our community, and it’s only when we have that information that we can respond and react to it,” he said. “We would ask that you please help us find and identify the people that you know are going to do something they shouldn’t be doing so that we can help make sure our citizens are safe.”
In the meantime, Stimpson said city officials, police and MCPSS leaders are working together to establish better cooperation and increase security at events in the future.
Because the Williamson-LeFlore game is a heated rivalry, Stimpson said there were already additional police on scene Friday night. However, he said the city plans to start using “college-type protocols” when screening people entering the stadiums within the city limits. He outlined some of those protocols, which include bans on outside bottles, cups, non-see-through bags, etc.
Stimpson also said “everything” was being considered, up to and including the addition of metal detectors at the entrances to high school games at the city-owned stadium.
“You will see enhanced security when you enter the stadiums this coming Friday. There will have to be some messaging to the parents and students about what they can bring into the stadiums going forward,” Stimpson said. “There were already security protocols in effect [at Ladd-Peebles] last night, we’re just saying there’s going to be enhanced protocols.”
Earlier this week, the Mobile City Council discussed including security enhancements at Ladd-Peebles as part of a planned suite of “general upgrades” to the stadium, but no firm action was taken.
Threadgill is expected to give the details on new security protocols for all MCPSS football games later this week, but MCPSS has already purchased walk-through metal detectors for all of its nine stadiums; four will be installed at Ladd-Peebles before games resume Sept. 6. According to MCPSS spokesperson Rena Phillips, a total of 20 detectors were purchased over the weekend at roughly $5,000 apiece.
“It may be an inconvenience for those who want to go to the games, but we cannot allow somebody to come into a stadium with a handgun and create the havoc that we saw this past weekend,” Stimpson said.
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