MINDEN, La. – Less than a week after an unpermitted trail ride turned violent in Cotton Valley, the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office learned about yet another unpermitted trail ride being advertised for this weekend.
Sheriff Jason Parker said if it hadn’t been for a concerned citizen who sent him a video about the event, the trail ride set for Sunday in Doyline would have escaped the scrutiny required by the parish special events ordinance.
But even though the organizer did not follow the 30-day requirement notice, he will be allowed to hold his trail ride but only with an attendance limit of 150, Parker said.
The trail ride could have denied.
“But I don’t want to be the guy who always puts thumb down on stuff. I understand there are some people who want to do the right thing and there are others who want to take advantage of the situation,” Parker said.
And he thinks that’s what happened with the upcoming trail ride. Sheriff’s investigators tracked down the organizer Thursday and learned he did not authorize the video that was circulating through social media. It depicts a large, mostly young crowd dancing to rap music, drinking alcohol and riding in trucks and some on horses.
The organizer, Parker said, only wanted to hold a small family event but others expanded on it from there.
“We educated him and sent him to the Police Jury to fill out the proper paperwork,” Parker said.
Parker said he’s also talked to Doyline residents who don’t want a big event in their community.
So, the parish will allow the trail ride to take place, but deputies will be out in force outside of the event grounds to monitor traffic. Vehicles will not be allowed to block roads. And once the attendance limit is reached, the entrance will be shut down, Parker said.
The sheriff emphasized his deputies will not be there providing security. Organizers are required to hire a private bonded security company when their anticipated attendance tops a certain amount. Webster deputies will only be in the area to provide traffic enforcement and have a presence in case of an emergency.
“We don’t want a repeat of what happened in Cotton Valley,” Parker said.
Saturday night, three people – including a 17-year-old Minden High student – were shot following a brawl that broke out where a trail ride was being held on Crow Street in Cotton Valley. Organizers did not get the proper permits for the event, Parker said, and his deputies only learned about it when the shooting was reported. Deputies and EMS were delayed in reaching the victims because the crowd had the road blocked.
One man has been arrested so far and more arrests are anticipated, Parker said.
The sheriff said the man who owns the Cotton Valley property called him afterwards to apologize for what happened and promised there would not be a repeat.
“Hopefully, we’re making progress on all of this so we don’t have it happen again,” Parker said.
He plans to visit again with the Police Jury and others to see if anything needs to be changed about the permit process and to make sure the public is aware of what is required.