By: Michael Campbell, News Editor
DINWIDDIE – Two people were transported to a Petersburg hospital after gunshots rang out during a concert Saturday evening, creating a terrifying and chaotic situation for attendees.
According to Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office Deputy Major William Knott, reports of multiple gunshots came in just after 8 p.m. Saturday night during a rap concert at Virginia Motorsports Park just off Boydton Plank Road.
Deputies who were on scene assisting the event security heard shots in “multiple locations,” Knott reported.
In the moments after the gunfire, Knott explained that there was a “mass exodus” of the park as people attempted to leave the area, creating a situation where people were falling down and suffering minor injuries.
Following the shooting, a total of two people were taken to Petersburg’s Southside Regional Medical Center for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Knott told media that they are still working to determine if their injuries are the result of gunshots.
Additionally, Knott said that “at least two vehicles” were struck by gunfire and those vehicles are being evaluated by Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office detectives for evidence.
A witness inside the park described the seconds after the first shots rang out and what he did to keep his and his girlfriend safe.
“After the first shots, we started running toward the parking lot,” Brent Lamb, who was at the concert shared. “And then we heard some more shots that sounded pretty close to us, like a couple cars over, so we just ducked and started running faster and got to our car and stayed there.”
As people made their away from Virginia Motorsports Park, Knott said there were several incidents in the immediate area of the park and along U.S. Route 1, including a pedestrian struck and a number of motor vehicle accidents.
The condition of the pedestrian who was struck is unknown at this time.
U.S. Route 1 was closed for a time as police worked to clear the area and reopened during the 11 p.m. hour Saturday.
A mayday call was issued by officers responding the situation at the park, which Knott estimates, at the time of the incident, had 10,000 to 12,000 people inside, resulting in mutual aid response from neighboring communities, including Petersburg, Prince George, Chesterfield, Virginia State Police and others, who converged on the area and aided in dealing with moving people out of the park to incidents at area businesses as thousands of people exited the facility.
By 11 p.m., much of the track had been evacuated, with authorities continuing to canvass the large event grounds for evidence and searching for any possible injured individuals.
As midnight approached, Knott said that the county’s investigative units are working to determine how many shooters there were.
In terms of security, Dinwiddie authorities said approximately five to six deputies were working the event and additional units were arriving as the gunfire was heard. He added that the sheriff’s office provides deputies as an aid to Virginia Motorsports Park, but the park itself provides its own security for events.
Knott said he did not believe the park had metal detectors as part of its security measures.
The Dinwiddie Monitor reached out to Virginia Motorsports Park representative Allen Carpenter in regards to the security measures employed to keep event-goers safe during the all-day event at the facility, but, as of this report, no response was provided.
According to a report from Richmond television station WWBT-TV, Carpenter was quoted as saying, “The event is being investigated by the Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office. You can contact them for comment.”
He also declined to comment to the television station on the if the facility had metal detectors.
According to the facility’s website, Saturday’s event was the “2nd Annual Spring Fest” and “The Big 5 State Bike Rally,” featuring motorcycle and streetcar racing and a concert from rapper Lil Boosie. The event listing on Virginia Motorsports Park’s website said the event was scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday night.
Speaking to the surrounding community and Dinwiddie at large, Knott believes the incident was isolated to the event grounds and no threat of residents’ safety exists following the shooting even though the search for the shooter continues.
“I believe it was concentrated there, but there were several incidents up the road as people left,” he explained. “We received some calls of accidents and disturbances at local businesses, but we and our adjourning law enforcement partners have helped us out there,” adding that he is not aware of any gunfire at any businesses following Saturday’s shooting at Virginia Motorsports Park.
“With the number of people there and the number of gunshots that I understand were fired, we’re extremely lucky,” he said. “This could have been a lot worse.”
As detectives continue to piece together what happened at the event Saturday night, Knott asked event-goers if they had photos or cell phone video of the event or have information that can help investigators to speak with authorities by calling the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office at 804-469-4550 or Petersburg-Dinwiddie Crime Solvers at 804-861-1212.
Copyright 2017 by Womack Publishing
Photo Credit: Michael Campbell / The Dinwiddie Monitor