Authorities still uncertain what happened outside stadium on Friday

Published 7:12 pm Monday, November 6, 2023

With conflicting reports on what happened on Friday night leading to fans fleeing the LaGrange-Troup football game, authorities still have not identified what caused the incident.

The LaGrange Police Department and Troup County Sheriff’s Office both worked the game at Callaway Stadium, as normal practice, but neither agency is sure exactly what happened outside the stadium that caused the game to be stopped and fans to flee.

One thing is certain, something that sounded similar to a gunshot was heard coming from the tailgating area north of the stadium on LaGrange College property. After hearing what could’ve been gunshots, many people from both sides of the stadium fled the stadium, In the ensuing chaos, at least two people were injured, one was trampled and another had a related medical incident.

Thinking that it was possibly an active shooter incident, both teams were also ushered into the locker rooms and the game was temporarily stopped for about 30 minutes. The game was eventually resumed around 10 p.m. and LaGrange defeated Troup 23-7.

Multiple sheriff’s deputies reported hearing what they believed were gunshots, however, LaGrange police Investigated the incident and believed that something else created the noise that caused fans to flee the stadium.

LaGrange police investigated the incident and were unable to locate any evidence that any shots had been fired in the area. At the time, LPD Capt. Eric Lohr said that he thought it had possibly been fireworks or a speaker popping.

Sheriff James Woodruff said he received calls from command staff indicating that shots had been fired during the game in the area of Callaway Auditorium.

“Two of my commanders called me and said, ‘We’re letting you know, there are shots fired across the street from the stadium at the auditorium,’” Woodruff said.

Woodruff said that deputies, who had been inside the stadium, responded and were unable to locate anyone with a gun or a possible shooter. He indicated he believes shots were fired because he trusts his deputies who were there.

“Can I prove it because we didn’t find a shooter or find bullets on the ground? No. But I trust my officers, and they know what gunshots sound like,” Woodruff said.

Police Chief Garrett Fiveash confirmed that the original reports coming from the stadium were that shots were fired.

“We have no evidence to support that whatsoever, but some people reported a loud pop,” Fiveash said. “We don’t know if it was fireworks, but we have found no shell cases of any kind of weapon and we found no one who could actually corroborate the fact that there were shots fired.

“I don’t know the origin of the sound. We had our captain of detectives, Capt. Lohr, there and he said he never heard a sound of any kind. He was there for the entire game because we had sent our crowd suppression detail to work that night as supplemental security,” Fiveash said.

Fiveash said that they are taking the investigation seriously because, if there was a shooting, that could mean that retribution is coming.

“We don’t know that it’s not all hype,” Fiveash said. “We’re in the business of taking precautions, just in case, but it’s hard to chase down every rumor because the last thing you want to do is become numb to the people crying wolf.”

Both Fiveash and Woodruff were not at the game, so they both had to rely on their officers who were.

“I wasn’t standing there. So I can’t definitively say one way or the other. I just know that all my folks that were on the scene, none of them said they heard anything,” Fiveash said.

In the meantime, Troup County School System officials are meeting this week to discuss the incident and review response.