A man was killed and at least 27 other people were injured in a “gunfight” at a car show in Dumas, Arkansas, on Saturday night, authorities said.
The victims were described as bystanders in a shootout between two suspects, Col. William J. Bryant of Arkansas State Police said at a press conference Sunday.
“The bottom line on this is just two individuals got into a gunfight,” he said. “Unfortunately we had multi [cq] victims of the shooting incident.”
One person was arrested, but authorities were unclear on any possible connection to the violence.
“It’s an unrelated arrest,” Bryant said. ” … We’re still looking for two people.”
At least six children — the youngest is 19 months old — were among those wounded, he said. They were taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, according to a spokeswoman.
At least five had been released as of Sunday afternoon, the colonel said.
The deceased was identified by authorities as Cameron Schaffer, 23, of Jacksonville, Arkansas. Bryant said there was no indication the victim was one of the shooters.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he will monitor the investigation as it unfolds.
“As the investigation continues I will examine details to see if there are any steps that could have been taken to prevent this type of tragedy,” Hutchinson said.
Troopers, highway patrol officers and investigators were dispatched about 6:50 p.m. to a parking lot where the event, billed by promoters as a car and bicycle show, was taking place, Bryant said.
Though organizers have promoted a broader weekend of spring break-style festivities for years, the colonel said their online marketing shows that bystanders and shooters all appeared to be there for the car show.
“If you look at the website for Hoodnic, the community organization — they do things like buy backpacks, different things — but it was a car show they were hosting,” he said.
The last time the wider event that hosts the car show was held, in 2019, it was billed as a two-day spring break festival, according to the city of Dumas.
This year promoters did not describe the two-day happening as a spring break celebration, though the listed attractions included club music, a parade, gospel performances, live bands, and a display of cars and bicycles. According to organizers’ schedule, the car show portion of the weekend should have been over by the time shooting broke out.
Virtual fliers have advertised the wider event as the “NeighborHOOD PicNIC” and “Hoodnic Weekend.”
Video from the grounds of the event verified by NBC News shows a set-up similar to a music festival, with a stage, food concessions, tarp-covered booths, and dirt-covered pedestrian paths.
State police have not mentioned the larger festival.
“There is no doubt on the part of local authorities or the state police a car show occurred,” state police spokesman Bill Sadler emailed.
The event’s organizers, a nonprofit group called the Hoodnic Foundation, said it was “heartbroken and in shock at what took place during tonight’s car show,” in statement posted to its Facebook page.
Organizers have also described themselves as working under the name Delta N.E.Y.O.
The group’s director, Wallace McGehee, told NBC affiliate KARK of Little Rock that he witnessed the shooting break out and tried to get children out of harm’s way.
“Getting down, trying to get kids out the way, that was the main issue for all of us,” he said.
McGehee said the group encourages nonviolence. The Hoodnic Foundation is listed on transparency websites as an educational nonprofit.
This was the 16th year for the larger event in Dumas, McGehee said. The other years, he said, were problem-free.
“Send ya’ll prayers, send y’all condolences,” McGehee said.
Chris Jones, a Democrat running for Arkansas governor, tweeted that he had been at the event earlier Saturday, registering voters and enjoying “a positive family atmosphere.”
“I am deeply saddened (and honestly angered) by this tragedy,” Jones said in a statement.