INDIANAPOLIS — On Friday the Marion County Fair set a one day attendance record.
On Sunday the Marion County Fair Board announced it was shutting down the annual summer celebration a day early after two people were wounded during a shooting as a crowd of young people rushed the fairgrounds gates Saturday night.
“It was about 8:45 last night when things tended to kind of go south,” said Fair Board Spokesman Abdul Hakim-Shabazz. “We were at capacity, we told everybody, ‘Hey, if you want to come in you’ve got to wait for someone to leave’, just the usual two go in, two go out, sort of thing. It was at that point when it was at Gate 4 where 100 or so juveniles rushed.”
Five juveniles were arrested and four guns were seized.
A source with the Marion County Sheriffs Office described the attempt to enter the fairgrounds “an organized effort” which may have had its origins in attempts by sheriffs deputies earlier in the day to eject suspected gang members who were “flashing signs” at other teens.
Jon Riley arrived at Gate 4 minutes after the crowd rushed the entrance.
“I was kind of chillin’ at the gate and I randomly start hearing some gunshots within 15-20 feet of me,” he said. “About 15 shots or so. The next thing I see three guys like, ‘Oh I’ve been shot. I’ve been shot.’ One comes over by the gate. A couple others go a different direction.
“I knew right away it wasn’t fireworks. I knew it was gunshots especially after I saw the guys that were shot and had their wounds.
“By the time the additional sheriffs showed up in a minute or two, they had their guns pulled.”
Sheriffs deputies found two people wounded and one girl injured as she was trampled by the crowd.
The source said its likely that deputies saved the life of one teen by applying a tourniquet to his arm after he suffered a bullet wound to the elbow.
One deputy reported he was pepper sprayed by someone in the crowd.
The Fair Board is now faced with planning changes so that the 2021 fair is not a violent repeat of the last night of this year’s fair.
“One of the things that is being discussed right now is whether anyone under 17 or 18 years old can be allowed in the fairgrounds without a parent because a lot of that was unsupervised, unattended kids,” said Hakim-Shabazz. “It is the parents of unsupervised kids that need to take some responsibility for the childrens’ action. We cannot be a babysitter. We just can’t.”