It was a festive homecoming game Friday night with the Red River Bulldogs in control of the Lakeview Gators. At halftime the Homecoming Court was presented and Payel Patel had been crowned Homecoming Queen.
The third quarter was underway and Red River was definitely overpowering Lakeview. This reporter was on the track behind the team taking pictures of the game. I noticed the cheering of the crowd turned into a roar. I turned around to see just about everyone in the stands making a dash for the exits in a panic.
Several people climbed or jumped over the fence onto the track. Most fans headed to the parking lot.
Sheriff’s deputies and city police officers rushed into the stands. They were trying to determine the cause. They were also directing people to the exits. High School and School Board officials were also trying to get the people out safely. Coaches of both teams sent their players running to the locker rooms. Cheerleaders and members of the homecoming court (who had been watching the game from the track) scrambled to the field house. The game officials also hurried to their locker room.
At 9:08 pm Athletic Director Norman Picou made the announcement on the PA system that all remaining fans were to clear the stadium immediately.
Law enforcement officers were speaking with fans in an effort to determine the cause of the panic. Others searched the now deserted stands for evidence. And other officers worked with the crowds outside the stadium to get everyone away safely and quickly.
Several rumors were being spread around and officials were trying to determine exactly what had taken place. School officials determined that some fans in the home section of the stadium had caused the panic.
Here is the Official statement from Red River Parish Schools:
In response to the incident at the football game at Pat Strother stadium against Lakeview. Red River Parish Schools can 100% guarantee that there was no gun or gun shots at the stadium. We have reviewed security cameras and confirmed that there were no shots fired and no gun. It was a panic created by a group of spectators. Red River Parish Schools would like to thank the Red River Parish Sheriff’s deputies and Coushatta City police for their quick response to ensure that our students and fans were safe and secure.
Players and participants were picked up by parents and relatives. Fans dispersed. And the game was ended. The scoreboard stood with the game clock at 3:41 in the third quarter. Final score Red River 42 and Lakeview 6.