“The person of interest that we had last night, we ultimately did arrest,” Capt. D.W. Ready said.
Raymond Nathan Colbert, 17, is charged with misdemeanor evading arrest.
Investigators said officers approached Colbert because he fit a witness description. The man ran from responding officers and was detained for questioning, police said.
Despite the arrest, Ready said it is still too early in the investigation to confirm whether or not shots were fired at the carnival, causing dozens of patrons to evacuate the grounds in haste.
Investigators said officers also found one used 9 millimeter shell casing on the northwest side of the stadium toward, Kirby Drive at Westridge Street, but cannot confirm whether it is evidence that a gun was discharged. It’s possible the casing could be old or from something else, police said.
“We (do) not have eye-witness accounts,” Ready said. “What we had was reported discharge. We have no one to date that saw somebody with a gun fire a round and we still have not firearm.”
Investigators said it is possible the casing was not produced by a firearm.
“I’m not going to get into speculation on how the gun was brought in, if it was thrown over the fence — we don’t even have a gun yet,” Ready said. “So we don’t know if it was a real gun, or if it was a gun at all, or if it was some hybrid of a gun like a pin gun, or something like that. We don’t know. All that’s under investigation.”
The department is still reviewing surveillance footage.
There were no reports of anyone being injured.
The latest development gives new meaning to accounts from those inside the carnival at the time of the alleged incident. While some patrons were seemingly unaware, others describe moments of fear and chaos.
“We were actually waiting in line to get her face painted,” carnival goer Kayla Phillips said. “We just saw a whole bunch of crowd just running, and we were like ‘well, is it just children running? Or what’s going on?’And then we saw more people, who were like ‘there was a shooting! There was a shooting!’ And we were just looking. I was in shock. And then a girl ran into me.”
Mark Miller was on a carnival ride when he saw dozens of people racing to the exit. He captured the scene from overhead on his cell phone and later posted it to Facebook. The video shows families running like a herd of cattle.
“Sometimes they do run, people in the rodeo or in the carnival, but they run because sometimes there kids are running after each other. We get reports of people running from time to time, but that in itself isn’t cause for concern,” Ready said.
HPD officials are confident in the carnival staff’s process of inspecting visitors for prohibited weapons and other items.
With guest safety in mind, HLSR President and CEO Joel Cowley said event organizers have considered making a adjustments to its current screening process, but nothing is set in stone.
“If anything needs to be done differently, it will be done [Wednesday],” Cowley said.
“They do a really good job of checking people, and all their personal effects as they come in through the gates,” Ready said.
Rodeo Houston officials posted the following statement on Twitter regarding the incident:
“The safety of our Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo guests is always our highest priority. Show security is staffed by officers from the Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. HPD has investigated the incident reported at NRG Park Wednesday night and has stated that they have found no weapons, have no suspects in custody and there are no reports of injuries. As a precaution, Show officials instructed people to shelter in place for a short time until officers determined that conditions were safe. We will continue working with HPD, HCSO and Texas DPS to monitor the situation.”
Police believe single gunshot caused panic at Houston Rodeo carnival
HOUSTON - Police said Thursday they believe a single shot was fired Wednesday on the carnival grounds at the Houston Rodeo, but they have yet to find a witness to the shooting or to find a firearm on the rodeo grounds.
Capt. Dwayne Ready, of the Houston Police Department, said a spent shell 9 mm casing was found in the northwest part of the carnival grounds, near Kirby and Westridge, which led them to believe a shot was fired.
"Our homicide division will continue the investigation with regard to any complainant or witnesses that we have to see if we can positively identify the person who shot that round," Ready said.
Police said they arrested Raymond Colbert, 17, and charged him with evading arrest.
Ready said Colbert was arrested after he ran from officers who responded to the reports of gunshots.
"That's because he matched the description that was provided as a person who possibly fired the shot," Ready said. "When the officers went to make their approach he ran away."
He said police are still trying to determine if Colbert was the person who fired the shot.
Colbert is free on a $5,000 bond.
Reports of gunfire about 9:40 p.m. Wednesday created a chaotic scene at the carnival.
Video from witnesses to the panic showed people running out of the carnival. Some people claimed to have heard several gunshots, while others said they were just alarmed by the frantic crowd.
"We just saw some people running the opposite direction and asked, 'What are you running from?' And they said, 'There was a shooting!' And we just turned around and went the other way," Stacy Collins said.
real quick," Jonathan Arias said. "It (the shots) was very loud."
An all clear was given about 10:35 p.m.
Police said Wednesday that there was no evidence that shots were fired, and no injuries were reported.
Many rodeogoers told KPRC 2 that they were upset with how police and Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo officials handled the incident. Ready defended their actions.
"The information that we provided last night was accurate," he said. "We’re not tamping down anybody’s fear. We’re investigating what was reported, and to the extent that we can verify that, we'll do our due diligence."
Joe Cowley, president of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, said Thursday that metal detectors are used at the gates in an effort to prevent weapons from being brought onto the grounds.
"We do prohibit open and concealed carry of firearms on our grounds," Cowley said. "The potential that a firearm was on our grounds is concerning."
Cowley said he believes the event’s security protocol is sufficient, but that the situation will be assessed and adjustments will be made if they are needed.
Ready said a weapon has not been found.
FALSE ALARM: POLICE SAY NO EVIDENCE OF SHOOTING AT RODEO
Eyewitnesses described a frightening scene as hundreds ran for safety after reports of shots fired at RodeoHouston late Wednesday night.
Houston Police Department and Harris County Sheriff's Office rushed to NRG Park to secure the scene, but said they found no evidence of a shooting.
The all-clear was issued around 10:40 p.m., but people on social media still say they believe a shooting occurred.
"We have no weapons or suspect in custody and nobody has been shot," HPD Captain Dwayne Ready said.
He also answered the question about the possible source of the alleged noise.
"It could be that somebody heard something loud as they passed something," Ready answered.
As the shelter-in-place was in effect during the night, eyewitness described the chaos that unfolded.
"All of a sudden we seen some juveniles running," an eyewitness told ABC13.
ABC13 Digital Managing Editor Brittany Guarglia was inside Wednesday night's concert when the announcer broke the news over the intercom.
"There has been a situation on the ground, everyone must stay indoors right now," the announcer initially said.
"All you heard was gunshots," another eyewitness told us, describing how people were shoving each other and pushing to get out of what they thought was a dangerous situation.
"Mobs of people running, I did see some people trampled," a bystander said.
The carnival remained open after the investigation, RodeoHouston officials confirmed.
Investigators were said to be speaking to a person of interest. No injuries were reported.