Police releasing few details in weekend Mississippi festival shooting that injured one, city leaders call special meeting

Published 6:18 am Monday, May 23, 2022

One person was shot just off the downtown Batesville Square minutes before Springfest 2022 wrapped up Saturday evening. Police have questioned people of interest and expect to make arrests soon.

The gunshot victim was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford and remains hospitalized. Early reports of three shooting victims are incorrect, police said late Sunday.

Springfest headliner Jameson Rodgers was performing an encore song when eight shots were fired just south of the Square on Lomax Street about 9:40 p.m.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Dozens of law enforcement officers and private security personnel were within a hundred yards of the shooting location and responded immediately. The victim was able to give police a description of the alleged shooter and others involved

Chief of Police Kerry Pittman said his department is conducting an investigation and will be able to release information about the incident Monday following a special called meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

On Sunday, alderman Stan Harrison said he was “disgusted” about the shooting and Monday’s meeting of the full board will be, in part, to discuss what Batesville officials can do to prevent future incidents at family-oriented public events.

“The people of Batesville shouldn’t have to be afraid for their safety when we have something like Springfest and we intend to get some answers Monday,” Harrison said.

Pittman would not comment on reports that the shooting was the result of a dispute between gang members from a neighboring county, but said it does not appear the people involved are from Panola County.

Also on Sunday, Panola Partnership CEO Joe Azar, whose office spearheads the city’s annual music festival, said Springest was “great and a success” and that the shooting would have happened “festival or no festival.”

Azar said his office had met weekly for two months leading up the festival for security planning and updates with the Sheriff’s Office, the Police Department, and the Emergency Operations Management office.

Word of the shooting spread quickly on social media with many people describing a chaotic scene of “people running for their lives.” Many people standing close to the stage could not hear the shots and only became aware of the situation when others began running and the musicians were escorted off the stage.

Azar said the final song was within 90 seconds of its ending when the mayhem began.