LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The annual Salt Bowl, Benton vs Bryant, high school football game was held at War Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Aug. 25.
According to a joint release from the Little Rock Police Department and Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, during the latter part of the third quarter, there was an altercation that occurred inside the concourse section of the stadium between unknown subjects.
At this time it is not known if it was just verbal or also became physical.
Police said they have received information that a stun gun was deployed and “dry fired” by a person attending the game.
After the "dry fire" was made, people attending the game believed that they heard gunshots and began passing that information on verbally and through social media and texts.
There was a second “dry fire” of the stun gun at which point people began to flee certain sections of the west (Bryant) side of the stadium. There were also reports of people yelling “gun” which continued to upset the situation.
As other attendees began to see people flee and hear “reports” of gunfire, they also began trying to flee the stadium. There were several metal barricades outside the stadium that were knocked over during this time. When those hit the ground they made a loud noise that could have also been mistaken as gunfire.
“This was a misunderstanding of sound," said Arkansas State Parks Public Information Coordinator, Meg Matthews. "There were sounds that sounded like gunfire, but they weren't.”
Primary security for the event was the Arkansas State Park Rangers. Little Rock Police Department Officers work in an off duty capacity for security inside the stadium and Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office deputies work outside security and traffic control.
There was also stadium security present at the game as well as school resource officers from both Benton and Bryant police departments. Stadium security officers did check bags and individuals were wanded as needed prior to entering the stadium.
Matthews said they did check people's bags last night.
"We did wand people if we found something in their pocket that was suspect. We found that our protocol was very successful last night,” she said.
There was an estimated crowd of 38,000 people for this year’s game.
There were injuries reported.
One individual received a lower leg injury from jumping over a wall and another person fell down and was stepped on while other injuries were heat related.
There were medical officials on the scene and others who responded and treated the injured. Law enforcement officials successfully reunited all families that were separated during the initial incident.
The group of individuals involved in the altercation were able to leave without being identified. It is not known at this time if the suspects were students or just individuals attending the game.
Little Rock Police Department officers arrested a juvenile female after the fact for disorderly conduct. The arrest was not related to the initial incident and she was given a citation and released to a parent. There were no other arrests made.
Matthews said they have never seen anything like this.
“We really respect everyone’s right to say and do what they want," said Matthews, "especially on social media, but we would greatly encourage them to be respectful of others and go with the facts as opposed to rumors when they get on social media because it can result in a panicky situation, and that’s not good for anybody.”
Salt Bowl Committee Member, Shane Broadway said he did not want what happened last night to overshadow all of the good that happened yesterday.
“The story for me is more of the heroes," said Broadway, "the people who were out trying to help parents find their children and grandchildren, the Benton football players who were putting their helmets on Bryant cheerleaders, the Bryant football players who had kids huddled underneath them because of their pads to protect them. Those are the stories I’m going to choose to remember. The ones that are going to take me awhile to forget are the panic and the horror in some of the parents eyes as they were looking for their child.”
He said the Salt Bowl committee does not want what happened last night to overshadow all of the good that happened yesterday. They hope people will eventually remember the great time that they had.
The Little Rock Police Department will continue to work with the Arkansas Parks Rangers to identify the individuals who were involved in the initial altercation.