COLLEGE STATION, Ar. – 12 people were arrested and at least 5 people were injured in what the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office is calling a 4th of July “fireworks war”.
And emergency crews responding to the scene got caught right in the middle.
It began as an Independence Day party and an annual fireworks display but quickly drew a crowd of between 250 and 300 people. The majority of the people in attendance were not even residents of the area, but were reportedly from Little Rock, North Little Rock and other surrounding communities.
“That area has a history of fireworks complaints, so we had a few deputies over there,” Lt. Cody Burk said. “It started about 6 [p.m.], and we were out there until well into the morning.”
But when calls began coming in about burns and parts of fingers being severely damaged from stray fireworks, paramedics were caught in the mayhem.
“Oh, I saw them shooting them at police. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
As they attempted to drive into the area to begin treating wounds, onlookers began firing the projectiles directly at ambulances and other emergency vehicles.
The crowd shot so many fireworks at ambulances that the first responders could no longer drive into the area, sheriff’s office spokesman Burk said, which meant deputies had to transport people with missing fingers three or four blocks before they could be seen by a medic.
Burk said that multiple people had parts of their fingers and hands blown off in “display-grade” fireworks. The video shows a constant onslaught of projectiles being fired into the streets and park while people scream.
“It sounded like a war zone,” resident Annette McClain told Arkansas Online. “It was really scary. I was scared my house would catch on fire.”
The local noted that while the area has had massive fireworks displays before in previous years, she has yet to see one so violent or with such a large crowd.
“I saw them shooting them at police,” McClain said. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
The 12 people were arrested on various charges after several deputies received minor burns from people shooting fireworks at them, Burk said. Several small fires also reportedly broke out in the chaos, which emergency crews were forced to extinguish.
Tyrese Taylor and Rashad Scaife told Arkansas Online that they participated in the fireworks fight Thursday night, and said the event was planned to be in a secluded area and away from houses, but things got out of hand. Taylor said the fight happens almost every year with bottle rockets or smaller incendiaries, but this year attendees had bigger ammunition.
“We were out here all day, but war started at 6,” Taylor said. “Everybody was lined up and everybody knew who they were shooting at, but when the police showed up it was like stepping on an ant bed. People went everywhere.”
“I saw three people get hurt,” Scaife said. “This one guy, his whole hand was off.”
Video captured at the scene from a deputy’s body cam shows the chaotic scene.
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Hey Arkansas: celebrating the birth of our nation doesn’t mean you get to attack the very people who protect you while you sleep.
What were these residents thinking? Let’s hope we don’t end up with more copycats next year….