A late summer night filled with fun was ruined Saturday as shots were fired at the Delta Fair causing chaos and panic in the packed crowds.
Many in the crowd said the noise came from trouble-making teenagers who set off fireworks until the Memphis Police Department confirmed that shots were fired. Many students at the University of Memphis are now asking if attending the Delta Fair is genuinely something people should do to kick off off their fall semester.
Matt Synder, the Director of Safety and Emergency Services of the Delta Fair, said it is unfortunate for the gunshots to occur at one of the biggest events in town.
“It took seven seconds for our officers to respond to the situation,” Synder said. “The fair is full of security unlike anywhere else outside of the fair, so I would say you are way safer at the fair than anyplace else.”
Snyder said he encourages everyone to go out and have a good time and not to allow fear to make the final decision. He also said he told those working at the Delta Fair to report any suspicious activity.
“So many people after the shooting told us they noticed something before it actually escalated,” Synder said. “If you see something odd, or notice people arguing verbally that can turn into something bad, tell us because we have no way of knowing if we don’t see it. It truly is a shame one person ruined it for everyone.”
Selena Tan, a junior at the UofM, said she has been attending the fair since she was 10 years old and still plans to go in the future despite the recent shootings.
“When I went this weekend, it was pretty different from literally all the years I’ve been to the fair,” Tan said. “My friends were scared more about rides breaking down, but in the back of our minds, we worried a little if we made one wrong move to the wrong person we could get shot, so we just stayed in our little group and minded our own business. Other than that, I will forever love (going to) the fair even if there’s a risk to it.”
The Delta fair has been a yearly tradition since 2007 but has recently come under scrutiny because of fights and shootings.
In 2016, there was a shooting that resulted in a stampede, causing one woman to be injured. In 2016, the FBI listed Memphis as the second most dangerous city in the United States per capita behind St Louis.
UofM junior Saul Orozco said he is open to returning to the fair one day but hasn’t gone in years because of how unpredictable and dangerous it could be.
“It sucks because these days it seems like going anywhere can be a threat, and it shouldn’t be that way, especially a place where a lot of children like to go each year to finish off summer,” Orozco said. “I guess a positive way to look at it is if not too many people go any more like me, there would be shorter lines for those that do still go.”