Shots ring out at Rodeo cookoff

February 28, 2011 6:42:44 AM PST
There was a scare at the Rodeo cookoff and carnival after eyewitnesses say someone opened fire. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo says security immediately stepped in. The shooting happened half an hour before the carnival closed Saturday night. A group of teenage boys were detained.

This year's barbecue cook off and carnival drew record crowds to Reliant Stadium, more than130,000 just Saturday night.

"Ninety-nine percent of people at the carnival had no idea there was even an incident," said Executive Director, Rodeo Operations Mike Demarco.

That incident, a fight between two groups of teenage boys, resulted in two people being shot. One is wounded in the buttocks. The other was injured in the foot. Both are minors.

"I'm very surprised because the people that are out here are usually real laid back and just easy going and just want to have a good time," said attendee Damian Hudson.

Officials with the Rodeo say, in all, 18 teenage boys were detained within five minutes of the shooting. Two of them were taken into custody and charged.

"I've been here 38 years and I've never known of any gunshots being fired." said Chief Operating Officer Leroy Shafer.

Schafer oversees Rodeo operations. He told us they use surveillance cameras and searches at the stadium to control crowds. While he wouldn't reveal specifics of the Rodeo's security plan, citing confidentiality post 9-11, he did give us an idea of their extensive number uniformed personnel, which include HPD officers, sheriff's deputies and state police.

"We have over 300 BBQ tents in there and every tent has to have two officers, so over six officers were in that one area alone," said Shafer.

We also noticed posted signs, prohibiting weapons on carnival grounds. Eric Gutierrez says word of the shooting won't keep him and his family away.

"It's gonna happen, gonna get that many people together. It's gonna happen." said Gutierrez.

Others, like Hudson, wouldn't mind passing through metal detectors, in exchange for peace of mind at the Rodeo.

"It would make it a lot safer and easier on security personnel here that work for Reliant Stadium and also for the cops who come in and help out," he said.

Charges have been filed against two teenage suspects. One was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The other was charged with evading arrest.