‘I don’t think they were prepared for that amount of people’; Parents wary after weekend shooting at Point Mallard

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DECATUR, Ala.- A young man was arrested on Monday after a violent incident at Point Mallard waterpark over the weekend.

Decatur police said they arrested 18-year-old Caleb Jones, who they named a suspect after the shooting happened.

The two people shot at the park Saturday night are now out of the hospital and expected to be OK.

Like many parents, Jayna Newsom was terrified when her son called her Saturday night, telling her there was a shooting in the park and he didn’t know where to go.
This happened as the park was hosting a 3-hour twilight party called ‘Splash Into Summer.’ At just five dollars at the gate, Newsom believes Point Mallard leaders drastically underestimated how many people would take them up on that offer.

Monday afternoon appeared to be a return to normal at Point Mallard.

“Today, we actually saw some security guards and Decatur policemen,” Ashley Johnson said while leaving the water park with a group of friends.

Kids with tubes in hand were heading up the slides, and parking spaces were easy to come by. That’s a far cry from Saturday evening.

“The line was as far back as I could see and as far ahead of me as I could see,” Newsom said.

Newsom had dropped off her son for Saturday evening’s ‘Splash Into Summer’, not wanting to fight the crowd.

“You get a lot of teenagers there unsupervised, something’s going to happen,” Newsom said.

“We had a few people who chose to come in and cause problems,” Decatur director of parks and rec Jason Lake said.

Just after 9:00 p.m. Saturday, Decatur police say someone took out a gun and shot two people in the water park.
Several people mistook the bang for fireworks, and Jayna got a terrifying phone call.

“He was in absolute hysterics. He couldn’t find his friends, he’d lost them in the crowd. He was being rushed out as they’re telling him, ‘stay calm’,” Newsom said.

Decatur mayor Tab Bowling says after what happened Saturday night, the park won’t host another event of that size unless they have the infrastructure to handle that many people. That includes traffic cones, mobile police and fire command, similar to what the park uses during the Alabama Jubilee.

“I don’t think they were prepared for that amount of people. I was not prepared for that amount of people,” Newsom said.

“It’s just nonsense. And I feel as an African American community, we need to teach our kids at a young age, it’s not cool, it’s not OK,” Johnson said.

Decatur city leaders say the park counted 5,269 people in the water park when the shooting happened and seven police officers.

Jones is being charged with two counts of assault on a $60,000 bond.

So far, Decatur police haven’t named anyone else they believe was involved in the shooting.

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