During Wednesday’s Freedom Blast at the Government Center, someone possibly threw a single firework into the crowd and sent a group of teens running with the belief that someone had fired a shot.
“There was not a shooting,” said Thomson Police Chief Anson Evans.
According to the chief, Thomson Police officers on duty at the Freedom Blast at 9:15 p.m., July 3, were informed by a citizen that three young men attending the event had guns.
The chief said that as officers responded and began to search for the individuals, they observed a group of teens gathering near the event vendors.
As the officers approached, Evans said it is believed that someone threw a single firework, which exploded, and sent the small group of teens running from the area as officers ran toward the group, Evans said.
“In close proximity to the crowd, the officers never observed anyone holding or pointing a gun, shooting in the air or toward the ground but did notice the air filled with smoke and the odor of an exploded pyrotechnics which was not confirmed,” he said.
Evans said the some panic and flight arose from festival participants who heard the single bang or pop and saw the teens running. He said people hurriedly left the government center grounds thinking that the bang heard was a gun shot. Pandemonium ensued as word spread that someone was shooting and people fled without ever knowing what happened, Evans said.
“It is sad that we as citizens cannot come together and enjoy a moment of celebration without having to endure the wrath of someone’s ignorance or/or immaturity,” Evans said.
The Thomson Police is reviewing video of Freedom Blast to find a possible suspect or suspects. The police encourages anyone with knowledge of the incident to contact the police department at 706-595-2166.
According to Evans, next years communitywide celebration would be heavily monitored and Georgia’s statue against carrying firearms on government property would be strictly enforced.
“The agency is forward planning for next year’s event as surveillance cameras, drones, and other resources will be used to better monitor the crowd to enure the safety of our cherished citizenry,” Evans said.
According to Evans, Georgia’s statue 16-11-127 about carrying weapons in unauthorized locations prohibits the carrying of firearms on government grounds includes parking areas. He said a person could be charged with terrorist acts, creating false alarm and intimidation.