Holiday event marred by gunfire, violence



Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 4:32 PM

Police used riot gear and mounted officers to control the crowds.

Holiday Violence

Jonathan Betz reports

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DALLAS - Shots were fired at Dallas Fair Park after events intended to celebrate the holiday season ended in violence Saturday evening.

A 15-year-old boy was shot. He was transported to Baylor University Medical Center with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening. The boy was in stable condition late Saturday.

A tree-lighting ceremony and the 18th annual KwanzaaFest were among the events taking place at Fair Park on Saturday.

Huge crowds led organizers to shut down the scheduled concerts at KwanzaaFest in the Automotive Building.

"We had too many individuals in here, and so we just closed it down and ushered everybody out to the exits," said Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

KwanzaaFest organizers insisted that the early closing was not related to the shooting incident.

But police said the trouble started as people left the event.

"Different groups are breaking out in fights," said Dallas police Sgt. Stormy Magiera. "We've had a couple of officers in foot chases down here with suspects with weapons and things like that."

Greg Hudson saw one of the fights just outside the main gates.

"He actually had a gun; he had it out, and he was running with it," Hudson said. "For me, personally, it was real scary, because I'm out here on this lot parking cars; bullets don't have a name."

A police force 50-strong moved in - some on horseback, others with protective shields.

Police seized control of nearby parking lots, and - at one point - officers used pepper spray to control unruly crowds.

At least two people were arrested.

"It may look chaotic to people who are not in my business, but we were able to respond and we have the situation contained," said Assistant Chief Floyd Simpson.

The two-day KwanzaaFest event is expected to continue as scheduled Sunday starting at 11 a.m.