Fair: Social media report ‘100% false’

LIMA — Social media reports of gunshots being fired during the Allen County Fair on Saturday night are totally false, fair officials said Sunday.

“There was some social media reports about gunshots fired. That is 100% false. I verified that with sheriff’s deputies Saturday night. I re-verified that in our security meeting (Sunday) morning. That is completely false. That did not happen,” said Brad Core, Allen County Fair Board president.

Core did confirm there was a fight that had to be broken up by deputies.

Social media was filled with a five-second video of a deputy using pepper spray around a group to disperse it, apparently hitting a one-year-old child in a stroller.

“There was at least one fight on the grounds that ended in some youth in handcuffs. I think three people were being detailed, two minors released to the custody of their parents and I believe a 19-year-old there was taken in and booked,” Core said. “That happened on the north end of the grounds in and around the midway area. The deputies were right on that and it got curtailed. They were dealing with some folks with a disregard for proper ways of handling yourself.”

Allen County Sheriff Matt Treglia doesn’t believe the unnamed deputy was out of line for using his pepper spray, but is investigating the incident.

“The officer was well within his rights,” Treglia said. “We’re still looking into the totality of the circumstances.”

Treglia confirmed the deputy did spray some pepper spray towards a crowd.

“As the officer was escorting the disruptive group off the grounds they decided to possibly surround the officer and that’s what we’re looking into,” Treglia said.

Treglia says the incident “blew up” on social media Sunday and says he is concerned people may have already made up their minds about the incident and who was in the wrong.

“Well, it’s social media. So I think well all know that there’s a lot more to it than what you just see at face value. There’s a lot more to look into and that’s what we’re going to do on Monday,” Treglia said.

The Sheriff’s office provided additional details later Sunday in a news release.

In that news release, it indicated that “several large groups of teenagers and young adults, ages approximately 14-20 years old, caused issues at the fair. Throughout the night deputies received complaints the individuals in these groups were cutting in lines, making graphic sexually explicit comments towards/about female fair-goers, taunting fair-goers and other inappropriate behaviors. Deputies gave warnings and commands to no avail, then when deputies approached the group(s) they would immediately run into the crowd shoving fair-goers on their way, including elderly, children and strollers,” the news release stated.

Park rangers had stopped one of the groups and were “shoulder checked” and “chest bumped” by multiple individuals in the group. The rangers called for backup and several fights broke out and the Allen County Sheriff’s Office called in help from their street unit outside the fair.

The news release stated that one person was taken into custody and as that happened “a crowd of approximately 30 people followed deputies trying to have the suspect released. The crowd harassed and taunted as they followed the deputies causing one deputy to spray OC (pepper spray) into this crowd. The crowd then immediately dispersed,” according to the news release.

Reach Sam Shriver, reporter, at 567-242-0409.

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