Juvenile arrested in connection to fight at fair prior to panic

RCSD says shots were not fired at the South Carolina State Fair, despite rumors that caused a...
RCSD says shots were not fired at the South Carolina State Fair, despite rumors that caused a panic. (Source: Dominique Choe)(Source: Dominique Choe)
Updated: Oct. 14, 2019 at 3:57 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Deputies confirm a juvenile has been arrested in connection to a fight at the fair that took place Saturday night. The teenager is facing disorderly conduct charges.

Major Harry Polis with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department addressed fight videos circulating social media. Polis said the teen-aged male in the video was pointing his finger, not a weapon.

“We've seen the video where's an individual who is pointing their finger, it's not a gun, we've had investigators look at the video, we are all confident that it is his hand,” Polis said. “Out of an abundance of caution, our investigators have been reviewing the video of the individual allegedly pointing a gun and determined that fight took place approximately 40 minutes prior to the stampede. We know this now because we arrested one of the juveniles seen in that video and were processing them at the time the stampede began.”

The male pointing his finger in the video is not the juvenile that was arrested, according to Polis.

The Richland County Sheriff's Department confirmed again on Sunday that there was not a shooting at the State Fair Saturday night.

They say reports of a shooting started as a rumor, which led to panic, that caused people to run.

“It caused mass chaos as you can imagine in today’s active shooter world,” Polis said. “No one can be prepared for the amount of stampeding that took place last night.”

Polis said their investigation did not find any evidence to indicate there were any shots fired.

“We searched and scoured the fair after the crowd had left, there was no shell casings, there was no indication that there had been an actual shooting,” Polis said. “There were no 911 calls to dispatch about gunfire, there was none. Nobody showed up to the hospital after leaving the fair with gunshot wounds, there is just no evidence to support this statement that there was gunfire at the fair. We would have known.”

Despite what deputies confirm, several fair attendees reported hearing what they believed to be gunfire Saturday night.

"People falling on the ground, people are stampeding, you're being pushed, the whole time I'm preparing for if I get shot what am I going to do?” Sarah Berry, who attended the fair said.

Berry told WIS she is adamant she heard shots fired.

"I know what a gun sounds like. There's no doubt about it,” Berry said. "They were too consistent, it was too close together, it was not a balloon popping, it was more distinctive, it was more deep than just a balloon popping. You know what it is."

Polis said his deputies are trained to know what gunfire sounds like.

"It's our job to investigate these things. We asked, we searched, we scoured, we did everything in our power last night to ensure there had been no gun fire,” Polis said. "Had there been gunfire there would have been a crime scene we would have been looking for, and we want to make sure our citizens receive the proper medical care if there had been gunfire."

As a part of the investigation, RCSD will be reviewing surveillance video from the fair.

The State Fair sent out a safety statement from General Manager Nancy Smith to remind people about their Youth Entrance Policy.

The policy states that all youth under the age of 18 are required to be with a parent in order to get into the fair after 6 at night.

Anyone entering the fair may be asked to show proof of age after that time before getting in.

If a person is wearing clothing or jewelry deemed offensive or gang-related OR if that person is under the age of 18 without a parent after 6:00, they will not be allowed to enter the fairgrounds.

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