Officials re-evaluate security procedures at fair following deadly shooting

Fairgoers were quickly rushed away after the shooting.
Fairgoers were quickly rushed away after the shooting.
Keithdrick Pier (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)
Keithdrick Pier (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Greater Baton Rouge State Fair has entertained an estimated million and a half customers since 1985 and fair officials said over those 28 years they had never dealt with a shooting until Saturday night.

The incident left one man dead and another behind bars. Security procedures at the fair are now being re-evaluated.

The familiar sounds of fun that have long been part of a visit to the Greater Baton Rouge State Fair filled the air once again just hours after a frightening scenario unfamiliar to most.

Damien Richard has been bringing his family to the fair for years but never the day after a deadly shooting on the grounds, which caused him to keep a much closer eye on things than usual.

"That scares any parent; a stray bullet, a bullet doesn't have a name on it," Richard said. "That may have been a separate altercation between two people that had nothing to do with anyone else in the fair but still it's tragic that it happened."

The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office arrested Keithdrick Pier, 18, and charged him with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Darrius Scott, 20. They are both from Baton Rouge.

While the shooting stunned fairgoers and officials alike, Cliff Barton, chair of the Greater Baton Rouge State Fair Foundation, said safety procedures were followed as scripted.

"The plan worked," said Barton. "The police did what they were supposed to do our, volunteers and staff did what they were supposed to do and that was to get the people moved away from the area, where we had a problem and get them to safety."

Barton estimated between 50,000 and 60,000 paid customers pass through the gates every year. This is the first shooting he has witnessed in his more than 40 years with the fair. However, he added discussions are already underway on what can be done to make future fairs more secure.

"We talked about things like metal detectors and scanners or even adding a requirement for children of a certain age to require a parent or adult with them. There are a lot of things we can talk about and we will do that after the fair is over and we'll see what we can implement," Barton explained.

Added security is fine with parents like Amy Berteau, who said anything that could possibly prevent a similar event is worth putting into place.

"Being able to catch people at the door with weapons that don't belong at a fair to begin with, I would definitely feel better about letting my kids come and spending the day with them," Berteau said.

Jail records show the suspected shooter is being held on a $150,000 bond. The sheriff's office is asking anyone who saw anything to call Crime Stoppers at 344-7867.

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