A stampede of dozens of people, two fights, one man subdued by a Taser and two deputies injured marred the closing weekend of this year’s Georgia State Fair at Central City Park.
It all took place in the span of less than a half hour beginning about 10:15 p.m. Saturday, said Bibb County sheriff’s Chief Deputy David Davis, who was at the fair at the time of the incidents.
“Of the whole 11-day fair, that little 15-minute incident was the only bad thing we had,” said Davis, who also is a member of the Exchange Club of Macon that sponsors the event. “All in all, as far as a safety standpoint, it was a good fair.”
Saturday night deputies escorted several people out of the fair, arrested three teens and briefly took into custody a juvenile, who was released to his parents, Davis said.
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“There was a large crowd down there and everybody was doing fine, and then for some reason they started running,” he said.
Deputies were able to quickly disperse several women who began fighting. Officers then started moving out about 200 people from the midway to get the situation under control. A group of disorderly men resisted, and a scuffle broke out resulting in one deputy injuring his hand and another getting hurt in a fall, Davis said.
A deputy used a Taser on 17-year-old Jahrius Whitehead of Corbin Avenue. Whitehead was arrested and charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, felony obstruction, affray and giving false information to an officer.
Ohrmando Haywood, 17, of Ayers Boulevard, was charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, affray and felony obstruction.
Quintavious Everett, 18, of Emory Drive, was charged with disorderly conduct.
In the midst of the chaos, several reports came in about somebody shooting a gun near the parking area by the levee, Davis said.
“We went over to check it and never did see who was shooting, if it was gunshots at all,” he said.
No shell casings or other evidence of gunfire was found, which leads Davis to believe it could have been fireworks.
While the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office patrolled the fairgrounds, the Macon Police Department had jurisdiction around the perimeter.
Police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet said she checked with her department after gunfire was reported on Monday’s edition of The Telegraph’s Mix in the Morning radio and television program.
“They had the usual fights ... but nothing to do with gunfire,” Gaudet said. “I can’t promise you a shot wasn’t fired, but our guys had nothing and the sheriff’s office had nothing.”
Joy Story, president of the Exchange Club of Macon, said rumors flew through the grounds.
“Word quickly spread that the fair was closed, gangs were fighting and shooting, but I never heard any shots,” Story wrote in an e-mail to Mix in the Morning host Kenny Burgamy.
Davis said only a few people were dressed in gang colors that night, and investigators looked into the root of the altercation but never could determine what set off the women.
“This didn’t seem to be any gang fighting between rivals,” he said.
Story praised law enforcement efforts to quickly diffuse the situation.
“Any time you get that many young feisty men together they are not going to see eye-to-eye and next thing you know somebody starts swinging,” Story wrote. “I hate this happened. We had 10 days of non-incidents and all of a sudden a few have to act ugly.”
Davis said the fair resumed within minutes.
“Everything got back to normal, and it was quiet for the rest of the night,” he said.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.