Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste has confirmed some details from a shooting that injured seven at a “teen party” at the Grand Hall on Halls Mill Road Sunday, leaving five people shot and two trampled.
Reports of shots being fired started coming in from the Grand Hall a little before 11 p.m. on Sunday, April 1 in the midst of a party Battiste said was attended by hundreds of teenagers from the area that will be on Spring Break the rest of the week.
“This was such a large area, and there were between 300 to 400 teens at what they were calling a pre-spring break party,” he added. “There were seven individuals injured. Five were shot, two were trampled and one of the five gunshot wounds was self-inflicted. All of the individuals except one, who remains in critical condition, have been treated and released at this time.”
Battiste said all of the victims were between the ages of 15 and 18, adding that most of the party’s attendees were in their teens. Several individuals were detained at the scene, but so far none have been charged and no arrests have been made at this time.
Battiste said MPD is asking for public’s help identifying the shooter or shooters.“We’ll continue to work diligently to determine the individuals responsible for this act of violence,” he said. “This is a plea to parents to be more diligent in determining where their children are hanging out at and what protocols are in place there to ensure their children’s safety. Most of all, we ask them to hold their children accountable because the life they save might be their own child’s.”
There was apparently a frantic effort to leave the Grand Hall once shots started firing and police began to show up. A report from WKRG said at least one uninvolved motorist’s vehicle was struck by a fleeing vehicle that was being chased by police.
At a press conference Monday morning, Battiste said he couldn’t confirm whether the two incidents were connected at this time.
Battiste, who has repeatedly raised public concerns about local youths gaining access to firearms, said “children can’t go out and buy guns, someone has to supply them.” He also urged parents to check their children’s “rooms and bookbags” for any weapons they shouldn’t have.
The Grand Hall is a private event space, but police have so far found no evidence to indicate alcohol was being served to minors on Sunday evening. However, reporters on the scene after the incident unfolded Sunday night said some marijuana had been discarded in the area.
Battiste said investigators would continue to evaluate how the party was organized and chaperoned and whether the number of attendees violated any local fire or safety codes.
As far as security, Battiste said he didn’t know what, if any, measures were employed for the event on Sunday but said no off-duty MPD officers were hired as security guards, which he said private venues have done for larger events in the past.
While the city of Mobile has established a 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. curfew for teenagers in the downtown entertainment district, Battiste said that does not apply to and is not enforced in other areas of the city. He said the party itself appears to have been lawfully organized so far.
“You don’t have to have a permit to have a teen party,” he added. “You can rent an establishment, but you’d hope those individuals would do everything they could to make sure they had a safe environment for children, particularly if it’s at a private venue like this was.”
Lagniappe will update this story once more information is made available. Battiste asked anyone with information on the Grand Hall shooting to contact MPD at 251-208-7211.