LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A fight involving a stun gun at an Arkansas high school football game prompted thousands of attendees to evacuate the stadium as false rumors of gunfire circulated, according to a state report.
Panic and confusion quickly spread inside War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock on Aug. 25 following a fight in the stands between 10 male youths, according to a report by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. One of the individuals involved in the fight had a stun gun that several spectators mistook for a firearm, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
An estimated 25,000 spectators fled in fear of an active shooter, jumping over barriers, running across the field and sprinting toward exits. Several people were injured in the stampede, police said.
The report said there was no evidence any shots were fired at the high school rivalry game, which drew a crowd of about 38,000 people.
“The whole thing was a mass panic situation,” said Terri Rutledge, the department’s emergency services manager.
At the same time, officers with the Drug Enforcement Administration were conducting a felony arrest right outside the stadium. Agents dressed in SWAT gear were pointing rifles at individuals under arrest when football fans began exiting the stadium, which escalated the panic and caused spectators to run back inside, according to the report.
“I think it was just a really unfortunate coincidence,” said Kane Webb, the department’s executive director.
Webb said no charges have been filed against individuals involved in the altercation, and none are expected. Investigators were unable to identify any suspects.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson approved a more than $60,000 security upgrade for the Little Rock stadium following the incident. The stadium planned to install 18 metal detectors and implement a clear bag policy.