An outdoor concert in southeast Oak Cliff where a shooting erupted over the weekend, killing one and injuring 16 others, was a promoted, nonpermitted event with hired security that included seven off-duty Dallas police officers, Chief Eddie García said Monday.
The city’s top cop said at a news conference that promoters need to pay more attention to ordinances and Dallas needs better guidelines for “these types of events,” adding that the Saturday gathering shouldn’t have been allowed to happen. He said that police also need to work on internal policies and intelligence to better monitor gatherings and placements of off-duty officers.
“People coming to an event should worry about enjoying themselves, not to have fear that they won’t make it home,” García said. “We will have challenging days as a city, and this was one of them, but we also need the community to trust us.”
Gunfire broke out Saturday about 11:30 p.m. in the 5000 block of Cleveland Road when one person shot into the air, leading to an argument, García said. Then, another unknown person fired into the crowd. No arrests have been made.
The shooting killed Kealon Dejuane Gilmore, 26, and wounded 16 others — all of whom were listed Monday as stable, police said. The victims ranged in age from 13 to 29, and included men and women, police said. One person was injured but wasn’t shot. It wasn’t clear how that person was injured.
The shooting happened two weeks after one teen was killed and nine others were wounded at a shooting at The Space Dallas, a party venue in South Dallas near U.S. Route 175. About 1,000 people were at a spring break party when gunfire erupted between multiple people, wounding victims who the chief has said were waiting in line and caught in the crossfire. Police have not announced any arrests.
“It is the summer and these events will be popping up all around the city,” the chief said Monday about the two shootings. “We want people to enjoy our city, but it should be done safely and legally.”
Shalonda Jones, Gilmore’s mother, told KXAS-TV (NBC5) that her son doesn’t often go to large concerts but felt safe because of the promoted presence of Dallas police officers. She wrote multiple posts on Facebook asking for help and information about the shooting, saying that Gilmore’s brother had seen him die and that Gilmore was a “good kid” who “didn’t cause trouble nor bothered” anyone.
“I just don’t know what to do … Lord help me please,” she wrote.
An unsanctioned event
After this weekend’s shooting, a VIP badge was found outside of the venue that promoted the second annual Epic Easter Bike Out and Field Party. The event included live performances, an Easter egg hunt, a trail ride and welcomed patrons to bring ATVs or horses. A flyer also noted that Dallas police would be on site at the open field near Bonnie View Road and Interstate 20.
García said that seven off-duty Dallas police officers received approval from their supervisors to work security at the event, but had left about 30 minutes before the shooting. The chief said it was unclear why the officers left before the gunfire and said private security was also at the event.
He said that the officers shouldn’t have gotten approval from the department to work the event since it didn’t have a permit. He added that police need to work on communication and internal policies “to take a closer look at approvals for these types of jobs.”
Monday afternoon, García sent out a notice to the department stating that off-duty officers were no longer allowed to work any events that require a permit and were not issued one. Effective immediately, the notice said, officers must tell the department’s special events unit about gatherings with 100 or more guests, and that unit will inform commanders who oversee the division where the event is happening.
Cracking down on promoters
The chief said it’s incumbent on police to have intelligence in place to see when events are happening, if those gatherings have permits and to know about the people promoting them. García said officials are looking into filing charges against the promoter and landowner. He did not say what charges they could face.
He said police plan to work with city officials to look at events at city parks, venues or other outdoor locations that may require a permit. He said that he trusts his officers’ judgment in holding people accountable and breaking up unsanctioned gatherings for safety or security reasons.
“This crime is a prime example that not permitted, promoted events can lead to violence,” García said. “This, of course, can happen at any event. But with a permit and proper promoter oversight, we can better be prepared for events and crowds.”
“I realize that this might not be a popular decision, but if it saves lives, it’s one that must be made,” he added.
Council member Tennell Atkins, whose district includes the area where the shooting happened, said Monday that the city needs more officers on the ground and he supports evaluating city ordinances to see if officials need to crack down on promoters or change any policies.
He said he’s looking into how Saturday’s event was able to take place. A special-use permit is required for any gathering on private property with more than 100 people, he said, and this event had “way over” 100 people.
“We gotta do a better job about … how do we try to stop this type of violence?” Atkins said, adding that promoters need to know the laws and must be held accountable when they’re in violation.
Atkins said he’s not sure why the off-duty Dallas police officers left the gathering before the shooting. He said that’s a question for police, and he’s hoping to get more answers from Chief García at the City Council’s public safety meeting next week.
The shooting stirred calls for action after a spate of deadly shootings in cities across the country, including one in Sacramento, Calif., on Sunday that killed six people and injured a dozen others.
Nicole Hockley, whose son, Dylan, was killed in 2012 in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, said in a written statement that people “must move beyond collective outrage” and take action to stop gun violence.
She cited research from the Gun Violence Archive that said 91 people were killed and 246 people were injured in instances of gun violence over a 72-hour span this weekend.
“Body counts, terror, mourning and grief followed by statements of ‘thoughts and prayers’ have become a weekly routine in the U.S.” said Hockley, who is also the co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise. “This tragic pattern makes it easy to think that gun violence is an inevitable part of the American way of life. But this is one epidemic in our nation that is entirely preventable.”
Anyone with information regarding the shooting may contact Dallas police Detective Christopher Anderson at 214-671-3616 or email@example.com and reference case No. 057740-2022.