20-year-old man killed in Saturday night incident
Deputies arrested a teenager in the Saturday night fatal shooting of a 20-year-old man in the crowded midway of the Greater Baton Rouge State Fair.
Deputies arrested Keithdrick Pier, 18, 3427 Aletha Drive, Baton Rouge, in the death of Darrius Scott, 1084 Monet Drive, and booked Pier into Parish Prison on one count of second-degree murder, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said Sunday morning.
Fair Chairman Cliff Barton said workers closed the gates at about 11:15 p.m., but thousands of patrons still were milling around the park when the shooting occurred about 15 minutes later.
Barton said when the shooting happened, patrons headed toward the exits.
“There was a little bit of panic,” Barton said, adding some people were walking toward the exits while others ran. “There was a little bit of urgency in the way that people were moving.”
After the crowd dispersed, authorities found Scott wounded and on the ground, Hicks said. He died on the way to a hospital, she said.
Deputies arrested Pier based on the description several witnesses gave of the suspect’s clothing, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Two witnesses identified Pier as the shooter, the affidavit says. One witness saw Pier remove the gun from his waist and walk up to Scott, while the other witness told investigators he saw Pier turn away from Scott with the gun in his hand and walk away from the area, leaving Scott on the ground, the affidavit says.
Both witnesses said they heard two shots. Shell casings were found near a concession stand. A fair worker, who asked to be identified only as “Brandi,” said she saw a flash from the gun and heard two shots before seeing Scott stumble toward the tent where she was working, which is adjacent to the concession stand. She said he fell in front of the funhouse.
“I saw a kid drop, and I went to get help,” she said.
Deputies told fair officials that Pier ran toward a side gate by the midway after the shooting, but a deputy grabbed him near the merry go-round.
“I was on the grill making a cheeseburger when (a customer) left the window without taking his cheeseburger,” said Jessie Wise, a Pennsylvania native working in the concession stand. “I was making my cheeseburger, all smiling and joking around and that was that. I heard a noise and I didn’t know if it was gunfire or fireworks.”
Barton was in his office when he found out about the shooting. He said he immediately checked to make sure the five exits were open so people could leave the park at 17372 Airline Highway.
He said the fair has an emergency plan for situations such as a shooting, and getting guests out of the park safely is the first priority.
The fair has a “no gun policy,” Barton said, and although fair officials check all bags, purses and backpacks, they do not check every person who enters the fairgrounds.
“We don’t allow them, but people conceal them,” he said of guns. “Anybody can conceal a weapon and get by us because we don’t have metal detectors or scanners or anything like that.”
Despite Saturday’s shooting, Barton said he did not see a noticeable drop in attendance on Sunday.
“I could not believe the lines when we opened,” he said of crowds waiting to get in when the fair opened Sunday. “It tells me people realize it’s an isolated incident.”
But some fair-goers said Sunday afternoon that they had no idea a shooting occurred hours earlier, just feet away from where they stood.
Brittany London, of Paincourtville, said Sunday that she did not know there had been a shooting and wondered why there wasn’t additional security patrolling the fairgrounds.
“They aren’t doing anything to prevent it from happening again,” London said.
She said if changes are made to security in the future, then she will visit again. However, she said she will have to reconsider if fair officials make no major changes.
Lydelle Martin, of Sorrento, said he also did not know a shooting had occurred at the fair.
“If the proper changes were made, yes, I would feel a little safer,” he said.
Barton said the fair board met Sunday, but did not make any security changes because members were limited by what they could do in the short time span between the shooting and Sunday’s opening.
“We didn’t make the rash decision to go out and hire 100 deputies,” he said. “The same protocols are in place that were in place Saturday.”
Walking around the fairgrounds Sunday, Barton said he was still dealing with the emotional aftermath of the shooting. He said it was the 48th fair at the grounds and nothing like the shooting has happened before.
“We lost a life and that’s one life too many,” he said. “We don’t want anything like this to happen. This broke my heart. I’m having a tough time with it.”