Easter shooting to bring more security at center

Published 11:43 am Thursday, April 26, 2012

Security will be increased at Vicksburg Convention Center in the aftermath of a shooting during a party there on Easter morning.

New security measures include using wand metal detectors and searching bags and purses at certain events, VCC Executive Director Troy Thorn told the center’s board of directors Wednesday.

Board President Cliff Whitney suggested the center ban certain events such as the private party April 8 at which a bullet struck the ceiling of the convention center’s exhibit hall, leading to four arrests but no injuries.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The types of events that will have the heightened security remains under review, Thorn said.

Security should be increased but events should not be banned unless there are previous problems with a promoter or because of police intelligence reports, said board member Benny Terrell.

“What we’re going to do is start selectively deciding who can utilize the facility without a history of problems. That is a concern to me,” Terrell said.

Stationary metal detectors need to be installed and used at the convention center, said board member Brenda Love. She pointed out that security officers and police were at the April 8 event.

“You just can’t be everywhere at one time. You can’t control what people do,” she said. “You’re going to have some people who don’t have any sense.”

Everett Defrance, 22, 227 High Hill Drive, was charged with shooting into an occupied business. The shooting occurred after a public party at the center. He remained today in the Warren County Jail in lieu of $325,000 bail.

Thorn said he was at the convention center April 8 when the shooting occurred.

“About 10 minutes before … an officer was talking to me and said things were going extremely well,” Thorn said.

At least 450 people attended the event, and about 150 remained in the convention center when the bullet ricocheted off a door and lodged in the ceiling, Thorn said.

Security walkthroughs will continue but the convention center must also provide private security, Police Chief Walter Armstrong said.

“I cannot afford to take officers and place them at the convention center for the entire time an event is taking place,” he said.

Defrance, the man he was fighting and two others were arrested at the convention center, Armstrong said. Three guns were confiscated from people who shot in the air outside the convention center in reaction to Defrance’s arrest, Armstrong said.

Only Defrance was charged with a felony.