One man was killed and 27 people were wounded when two people got into a gunfight during a car show that’s part of an annual community event in a small southeast Arkansas town, authorities said Sunday.
A person who left the scene of the Saturday evening shooting has been arrested on unrelated charges and is being questioned about the shooting in Dumas, a city of about 4,000 located about 90 miles (144 kilometers) southeast of Little Rock, Arkansas State Police Col. Bill Bryant said.
“All we know at this time, there was two individuals that got in a gunfight,” Bryant said at a Sunday afternoon news conference.
He said several children were among the wounded, including two under the age of 2.
The car show is part of a community event held each spring called Hood-Nic, which is short for neighborhood picnic. The Hood-Nic Foundation says on its website that its mission is to “rebuild, reunite, and respond to the needs of the youth in our communities.”
The event, which helps raise funds for scholarships and school supplies, also included a bonfire, a basketball tournament, musical performances, a teen party and a balloon release.
“The purpose of Hood-Nic has always been to bring the community together,” the foundation said on its Facebook page. “This senseless violence needs to end.”
“It’s always been a family-friendly event with a message of non-violence,” said Kris Love-Keys, the foundation’s chief development officer.
Cameron Shaffer, 23, of Jacksonville, Arkansas, was killed in the gunfire, Bryant said. He said authorities have no indication that he was involved in the gunfight.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on Twitter that one of the two suspects had been arrested and was being held on unrelated charges. But state police later would only say the person who was arrested was being questioned.
“As the investigation continues I will examine details to see if there are any steps that could have been taken to prevent this type of tragedy,” Hutchinson said.
Six people under the age of 18 who were wounded by gunfire were taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, according to a spokeswoman. Most had been released as of Sunday afternoon.
Wallace McGehee, the car show’s organizer, told KARK that when the bullets started flying, he began “running, ducking, getting down, trying to get kids out of the way.”
Candace McKinzie, who helped organize the event, told The New York Times that the gunfire seemed to come out of nowhere.
“You went from laughing and talking and eating and everything to random firing,” she said.
McKinzie said people started running and tripping over one another and older people were falling.
Those who were shot include McKinzie’s cousin and sister. She said both were expected to recover.
Chris Jones, a Democrat running for Arkansas governor, tweeted that he was at the event earlier Saturday, registering voters and enjoying “a positive family atmosphere.”
“I am deeply saddened (and honestly angered) by this tragedy,” Jones said in a statement.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism