Questions remain after shooting at popular Decatur water park

Data pix.

Decatur Police arrested a man wanted in connection to a shooting at Point Mallard Park over the weekend.

Caleb Jones was booked into the Morgan County Jail Monday on two warrants for second-degree assault. He is being held on a $60,000 bond.

Photo: Decatur Police Department

Several WHNT News 19 viewers have expressed concerns regarding the circumstances around Saturday night's shooting.

Police Timeline

According to Decatur PD, shots were fired around 9:08 p.m. near the Wave Pool in Point Mallard Park.

Two victims sustained non-life threatening injuries and are getting medical treatment. Their conditions are unknown at this time.

Police believe the shooting is an isolated incident that occurred between people who know each other. Investigators don't believe this is a random incident, therefore, police say there is no threat to the public.

Just after 11 p.m. on Saturday, police said they identified the suspect and were attempting to locate him. It was not until 2:45 p.m. on Sunday that they released his identity to the public and asked for the community's help to find him.

Chaos Erupts

The shooting brought on terrifying moments for those at the park on Saturday evening. Videos recorded from inside the park show at least several hundred people near the wave pool screaming and running in multiple directions.

Photo: Justin Yocom

Many park goers believe there was not enough security to handle the number of people. WHNT News 19 learned seven police officers were at the park Saturday night.

Jackson Little was in line waiting to get inside the park when shots were fired. Little said the shooting happened after the park closed the entrance gate.

"We heard a gunshot, we thought it was a popped floatie, but then we all turned and ran and scattered," explained Little.

Little decided to take out his phone and filmed the chaos.

"There were people jumping the tall black fence, people rushing the gate to get out," he remembered.

Little said he was unsettled by the number of people inside the park before the panic erupted. He is not alone, several WHNT News 19 viewers have expressed similar concerns questioning if the park exceeded capacity on Saturday night.

"I did not think it was safe at all," stated Little. Attendees are also troubled by other security protocols like bag checks. Little claims bags were not checked thoroughly Saturday night until it was announced that park officials were trying to find a child in the park.

"They weren't doing any bag checks until something went wrong, and then they started doing semi bag checks," he explained.

We asked Little if he would return to the park. His response was, "I am not going to another event they have but will come back on a regular day."

City's Response

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling tells WHNT News 19 the aquatic center was not over capacity. He claims that attendance was higher at the park on Memorial Day.

He also said Point Mallard Park has a firearm policy, but when pressed for an explanation of what the policy was he referred us to the City's Parks and Recreation Department.

The Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation, Shannon Fuller Keith, read a prepared statement to reporters Sunday afternoon.

"The wellbeing and safety of Point Mallard visitors and season pass holders is our number one priority. As always, officers are patrolling the area and are securing the safety of our patrons. Point Mallard Waterpark is resuming all operations during normal posted hours. Decatur Police Department is currently handling the investigation, and visitors should expect an increased officer presence. We appreciate the thousands of people who visit the park every year, and we are looking forward to a wonderful season ahead."

City of Decatur Assistant Director of Parks & Rec Shannon Fuller Keith

When we asked Keith about capacity, specifically, how many people are allowed in the park, she said there are different numbers for the park and the pool. She did not give those numbers but said the park was not at capacity Saturday evening.

"As with every incident that takes place we are looking at reevaluating everything and we will release more information as our investigation continues," stated Keith.

Keith said the seven police officers providing security at the park was a sufficient amount of security given the nature of the water park event.

When we asked about how park staff handle bag checks, she told WHNT News 19 they will not answer any more questions as they evaluate the incident.

WHNT News 19 is continuing to ask questions regarding the shooting and security at Point Mallard Park. 

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