American Legion Post 3 closed after teen shot

Published 9:23 am Monday, September 3, 2018

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. has ordered American Legion Post 3 on Monroe Street closed after a 16-year-old boy was shot in the arm early Monday morning after a party at the post.

Vicksburg Police Chief Milton Moore said the shooting occurred about midnight Monday. The shooting did not occur in the building, and the victim’s name was not released because of his age.

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Moore said the teen, who was shot in the left arm, was taken to Merit Health River Region and kept overnight for observation. He was expected to be released sometime Monday. He said police have no suspects.

Flaggs said Moore notified him about the shooting and he told Moore to close the post. Flaggs said the post will be allowed to reopen after Legion representatives provide a safety and security plan for the building and future events.

The American Legion rents out the post for parties and other events.

Carl Baker, a former Post commander, said post officials want to meet with Moore and show him the Post’s surveillance video of the party and the parking lot. The video indicates the shooting may have occurred at another location on Monroe Street.

Several Legionnaires who worked the party said the wounded teen came running to the post from the direction of Fisher Ferry Funeral Home, north of the Legion hall, after the party had broken up.

Richard Stanley a member of the Post’s executive committee, said two fights occurred inside the hall during the party, one at 11:32 p.m. Friday involving two men, and another fight several minutes later involving two women. He said the people involved in the first fight were escorted off the property by security officers.

After the second fight, he said, “We shut it down.”

Video tells a different story

Surveillance video at the hall shows the interior lights going on and the party’s promoter and security guards announcing the end of the party about 11:53 p.m., Friday, and the Legion hall was cleared about 12:05 a.m. Monday. At the same time the party was stopped, Stanley said, police were called to help with traffic, and a police investigator arrived to help with crowd control.

Surveillance video of the crowd leaving the building show people milling in the parking lot and a security guard trying to get them to leave. About 12:09 a.m., Post commander Shawn Cosgrove, who was in the parking lot, said a single gunshot was heard in the area, and the video shows people looking north, then running for cover. They quickly got in their cars and left.

About four minutes later, the teen ran up to the hall saying he had been shot, Stanley said, adding police were already on the scene when the teen arrived.

“He came running up from the direction of the funeral home,” Cosgrove said. He added the teen was taken to Merit Health River Region by ambulance.

Baker said the Post had worked before with party’s promoter and three security guards were used — one in the parking lot, one at the door and another inside.

“We’ve never had problems with this promoter,” Cosgrove added, “And police have always been available to help us with traffic.”

Alcohol was served at the party, but Stanley said sales were controlled and consumption was restricted to one room of the hall.

Post 3 is the third business to be closed under a city policy to close businesses where violence has occurred until the owners present a safety and security plan to protect patrons. It was the scene of a December 2013 shooting in which one man was killed and two others wounded.

Flaggs ordered L.D.’s Lounge, 1111 Mulberry St., closed in December 2017 after five people were wounded in a Christmas Eve shooting. He ordered the Klondyke, 100 North Washington St., to close in February after a man was shot in the restaurant’s parking lot.

Both businesses were allowed to reopen after presenting safety and security plans.

Anyone with information on the shooting should call Vicksburg police at 601-636-2511 or Central Mississippi Crime Stoppers at 601-355-TIPS (8477) or 1-866-481-8477.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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