UPDATED: LaGrange College, Troup County ban tailgating from parking lots for high school football games at Callaway Stadium

Published 1:54 pm Thursday, November 9, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Troup County and LaGrange College have banned loitering and tailgating in parking lots for high school football games at Callaway Stadium.

A meeting was held Wednesday between law enforcement, county officials, school officials and other leaders to discuss last weekend’s event at Callaway Stadium where gunshots may or may not have been fired near the stadium during the LaGrange-Troup County game. In reaction, fans went running from the stands and the game was put on hold for 30 minutes.

“After events that transpired during the LaGrange vs. Troup high school football game Friday evening, local officials representing LaGrange Fire Department, LaGrange College, LaGrange Police Department, Troup Emergency Management, Troup County Schools, Troup County Government, Troup County Sheriff’s Department, Troup 911 and American Medical Response gathered to discuss an action plan for the future,” LaGrange College said in a press release. “Out of concern for public safety, there was unanimous agreement that tailgating no longer be allowed for high school football games, and that patrons not be allowed to loiter in parking areas before, during and after games. In its parking lots, LaGrange College will implement this decision immediately beginning with this weekend’s playoff games. College parking will open no more than 1 ½ hours prior to kickoff and loitering will not be permitted. For this weekend’s upcoming contests, that means the Callaway Auditorium lot will open Friday for parking at 6 p.m., and on Saturday the lot will open at 2 p.m. This plan will remain in effect for future high school games at Callaway Stadium.”

Troup County Manager Eric Mosley said Thursday that the county has banned loitering and tailgating in the parking lots the county owns at all events at the stadium. Mosley noted that typically tailgating occurs in the other parking lots, but the county wanted to make it clear it was banned on their lots as well.

LaGrange College owns the parking lots on its property across from the stadium. Troup County owns the lots adjacent to the stadium, typically used for parking.

“It’s never really been a problem, but I think we wanted to make sure that people didn’t just transition from LaGrange College over to the parking lot adjacent to the stadium,” Mosley said.

Stewart Smith, public information officer for the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, said it’s possible other policies will be put in place before next football season.

The clear bag policy, weapons detection systems and other safety precautions are still in place.

It’s unclear if shots were actually fired outside the stadium during the LaGrange-Troup game Friday night. The sheriff’s office handled it as a shots fired call, while the LPD did not find any evidence of gunshots. Smith said the Troup County Sheriff’s Office usually heads security inside the county-owned stadium, with help from the LPD monitoring half of the venue, and the LPD heads security outside the stadium.

Smith said everyone can debate if there were shots fired or not, but it doesn’t really matter because something happened that caused the commotion, and law enforcement had to be prepared to handle it.

“Something happened that caused panic that created a problem inside the stadium,” Smith said. “But fortunately, we were able to isolate the people in the stadium from those from the outside because we secured the gates and didn’t let anybody in or out until things had calmed down.”

Smith said the decision to ban tailgating was a joint decision made by the agencies in the room, which included the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, LaGrange Police Department, LaGrange Fire Department, Troup Emergency Management, Troup 911, Troup Fire, AMR, Troup County School System (TCSS), LaGrange High School, Troup High School, Callaway High School, LaGrange College, Troup Parks and Recreation and more

“You’re not going to make everybody happy with every policy you do,” Smith said. “But this was not just a LaGrange College decision. it wasn’t just a LaGrange and Troup County decision. It was a joint decision made by those in the room.”