Gym Fight Remains Under Investigation
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WATER VALLEY – The Water Valley Police Department continues to investigate a large fight that erupted at the girls basketball game in the Water Valley High School gym Thursday night.
Chief Jason Mangrum reported charges will be filed against fans from both Water Valley and J.Z. George who rushed the gym floor following a dispute on the basketball court early in the game. The chief said investigative work has continued daily since the fight to identify numerous fans who were involved from both schools. Charges expected to be filed will include disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace with intent to provoke a breach of the peace, both misdemeanors.
“It was so wild and chaotic, we don’t want to rush charges on this,” Mangrum explained. “This was parents and fans who left the stands when everything should have been left on the court. Some players did leave the benches from both sides, but the biggest issue was the fans who got involved.”
Two city officers were on duty for security at the game, along with Sheriff Jerimaine Gooch and a deputy. One of the law enforcement officers was pushed to the ground in the struggle to try and get everybody separated. Mangrum said there were three separate struggles on the court, all connected. The officers were able to get the first two incidents contained quickly, but the third fight escalated.
“They had the first incident handled very quickly with the county’s assistance. They got the second incident under control, but the four officers were just outnumbered on the third one,” Mangrum continued.
“The total people involved are well over 100 people who were on the gym floor at different times. The entire incident lasted over 15 minutes,” the chief added.
All available city officers and county deputies were asked to respond to the gym as the fight escalated. Lafayette County Sheriff Joey East also had deputies en route at the request of the chief before the gym was cleared.
“When we watched the video, I think it was even worse than they realized at the time,” Mangrum said about struggle the sheriff and officers faced before backup arrived. The chief also praised the professionalism of the outnumbered officers. “They kept their level of force at a bare minimum to keep it from getting even more out of hand.”
The gym was finally cleared and the remaining game canceled after the melee.
Mangrum praised the cooperation from Water Valley school officials during the ongoing investigation.
“The administrators at the Water Valley School District have been extremely cooperative, supportive and helpful,” he said. “We are also very appreciative of the fans who decided to keep their seats and stay out of it,” he added.
Mangrum said that his department’s focus is the criminal side, and the schools and the Mississippi High School Activities Association, Inc. will handle appropriate actions from the schools’ perspective. Tuesday night’s basketball game against Winona was canceled.