A person was shot just off downtown Batesville Square minutes before the end of Springfest 2022 on Saturday night. Police have interviewed persons of interest and expect to make arrests shortly.
The gunshot victim was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford and remains hospitalized. Initial reports of three gunshot victims are incorrect, police said on Sunday evening.
Springfest headliner Jameson Rodgers was performing an encore song when eight shots were fired just south of the plaza on Lomax Street around 9:40 p.m.
Dozens of law enforcement officers and private security personnel were within 100 yards of the shooting scene and responded immediately. The victim was able to give police a description of the alleged shooter and others involved
Police Chief Kerry Pittman said his department is investigating and will be able to release information about the incident on Monday following a special meeting called by the mayor and the council of aldermen.
Alderman Stan Harrison on Sunday said he was “disgusted” by the shooting and Monday’s meeting of the full board will be, in part, to discuss what Batesville officials can do to prevent further future incidents at public family events.
“The people of Batesville shouldn’t have to worry about their safety when we have something like Springfest and we’re aiming to get some answers on Monday,” Harrison said.
Pittman would not comment on reports that the shooting was the result of an argument between gang members from a nearby county, but said it does not appear those involved were from Panola County.
Also on Sunday, Panola Partnership CEO Joe Azar, whose office runs the city’s annual music festival, said Springest was “awesome and a hit” and that filming would have taken place “festival or no festival.”
Azar said his office met weekly for two months before the festival for safety planning and updates with the sheriff’s office, police department and emergency operations management office.
News of the shooting spread quickly on social media, with many describing a chaotic scene of “people running for their lives”. Many people standing near the stage could not hear the gunshots and only became aware of the situation when others started running and the musicians were escorted off stage.
Azar said the last song was less than 90 seconds from its end when the mayhem started.