DECATUR, Ala. – The city of Decatur says there were 5,269 people inside the park when they began turning people away on Saturday night.
Becky Bailes said she was at the park the night two people were shot, and she’s concerned about how many people were there.
“It was just chaotic, even getting in there people were coming around us in the cars and trying to break in line. it was terrible,” said Bailes.
Bailes says from the moment her family arrived for the “Splash Into Summer” event at Point Mallard, she knew it was a full house.
“I had to park across the road,” she said. “Cars were parked up and down the road.”
She says it took them an hour to get through the line, but once they were finally in the children with her refused to get into the water because of the crowd.
“My great nephew, he even said ‘I’m not getting in that water,'” said Bailes.
The park updated it’s Facebook post at 9:05 p.m. that night, saying the park was at capacity and the gates would be closed. But when WHNT News 19 asked the parks and recreation director and Mayor Tab Bowling if Point Mallard was at or over capacity that night, they said it wasn’t.
“The aquatic center in itself was not at capacity. It was where the crowds, the patrons were convening inside the aquatic center,” said Mayor Bowling.
We’ve been asked by a number of viewers about the park’s capacity. They believe Saturday night’s crowd was too large. It turns out, there’s not an easy answer.
After contacting the Decatur Police Department, fire marshal, fire captain, director of parks and recreation, and the Decatur Building Department asking what the park’s capacity is, no one could answer that question.
The Decatur Building Department did respond to WHNT News 19 but would not release capacity numbers, citing what they called “security concerns.” WHNT News 19 has filed an official Alabama Open Records request asking for either the numbers, or the specific exemption they are claiming.
We also requested the life safety drawing, but the building department said that Point Mallard has been around so long, they might not even have that record anymore.