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Jacksonville man, 23, dies after Dumas car show shooting that wounded 28 other people

by Neal Earley, I.C. Murrell | March 20, 2022 at 4:52 p.m.
Arkansas State Police Director Bill Bryant (at podium) answers questions from the media during a press conference Sunday, March 20, 2022, at the Southeast Arkansas Law Enforcement Center in Dumas. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

DUMAS — A Jacksonville man was killed in a Saturday night shooting at a Dumas car show hosted by The Hood-Nic Foundation, according to the director of the Arkansas State Police.

Cameron Shaffer, 23, was one of more than two dozen victims of the shooting that occurred at a parking lot at 611 U.S. 65 South, outside the old Fred’s store on the highway that runs through the center of town.

Arkansas State Police Director Col. Bill Bryant said at a Sunday afternoon news conference that the investigation is ongoing, and there was no indication that Shaffer was one of the persons involved in the confrontation that led to the shooting.

Dumas police responded to a call about the shooting at 6:50 p.m. Saturday and contacted state police for assistance.

Two individuals were involved in a gunfight, and state and local police are looking for at least one of those suspects. Dumas police arrested one person “who fit the general description” of a suspect and who left the scene of the shooting, but the charges were unrelated, Bryant said. 

The suspect or suspects would be identified publicly once they are formally charged, Bryant said.

The number of victims rose Sunday for the second time in less than 24 hours from the initial report of the shooting, when it was reported that as many as 10 people were wounded. Five children — ages 11, 9, 8, 23 months and 19 months — were treated and released at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Bryant said.

Other victims were transported to Delta Memorial Hospital in Dumas, Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, Drew Memorial Hospital in Monticello and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

State police are taking the lead in the investigation, with assistance from Dumas police, the Desha County sheriff’s office and local prosecutors. 

— I.C. Murrell

  photo  611 U.S. 65 South in Dumas, the location of the old Fred's store, is shown Sunday, March 20, 2022. Arkansas State Police say a shootout at the parking lot a day earlier killed a Jacksonville man and injured more than two dozen people. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

3:58 p.m.: Jacksonville man, 23, dies after Dumas car show shooting that wounded 28 other people

DUMAS — One person is dead and 28 others, including at least six children, were injured Saturday night as a result of a shooting at a car show in Dumas.

Cameron Shaffer, a 23-year-old man from Jacksonville, died from gunshot wounds, according to Arkansas State Police Director Bill Bryant. 

Police have arrested one person for unrelated charges, and they are still searching for two other people who may be connected to the shooting. 

Police said the shooting occurred at around 6:50 p.m. Saturday at the Hood-Nic Foundation car show when two attendees opened fire.

"The bottom line on this is two individuals got in a gunfight," Bryant said.

The Hood-Nic Foundation holds events to raise money for scholarships and school supplies, according to its website. 

— Neal Earley

12:08 p.m.: 1 dead, at least 24 wounded in shooting at Dumas car show, authorities say

One person has died and at least 24 others have been wounded by gunfire Saturday evening outside a Dumas business where a car show was underway, Arkansas State Police said Sunday morning.

The car show was held as part of the three-day Hood-Nic 2022 festival in the city, an organizer confirmed.

One suspect is in custody and a search is continuing today for others “who may have been firing into the crowd of people shortly after 7 p.m.,” state police spokesman Bill Sadler said. The shooting remains under investigation.

The number of victims, including the deceased, has risen by 15 from the initial state police bulletin Saturday evening.

Sadler said Saturday evening troopers of the Highway Patrol Division and special agents of the Criminal Investigation Division were dispatched to Dumas at about 7:25 p.m. following the initial report of the shooting.

“Most families were divided among the Delta Memorial Hospital and McGehee hospital, but two children were taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital,” Hood-Nic Chief Development Officer Kris Love-Keys said Saturday evening, adding some of the victims were children.

Authorities have not confirmed the identity of either the victims or suspect, but Love-Keys said a few hours later: “The children are stable and doing OK.”

State police confirmed the shooting occurred along U.S. 65. A Pine Bluff woman who worked security at the event said the gunfire rang outside the old Fred’s store on the highway, which runs through the center of the city.

“Special agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division have worked through the night interviewing victims and witnesses,” Sadler said Sunday morning. Troopers have been assisting Dumas police “restore calm to the community” and secure the crime scene, he added.

Love-Keys was not at the car show but reported someone in the crowd started firing at the beginning of the car show. The motive is not known.

“A big part of Hood-Nic has been to bring about unity and prevent incidents like this,” Love-Keys said. “This was the 16th year of the event, and there had never been an incident like this.”

Hood-Nic is an annual three-day festival that began with a bonfire Thursday at Pickett Park, continued with a basketball tournament and teen party, among other events, on Friday and concluded with a full day of activities including a parade Saturday, according to an itinerary for the festival on Facebook.

Pine Bluff resident Twynette Thornton, a security guard at the car show, said she and another person had left their duties for the evening and were sitting down when they heard gunshots ring. Thornton said she didn’t know what led to the gunfire.

“The kids who were shot passed by us when they were carried by adults, but I don’t know if they were the parents or just bystanders,” Thornton said. “There was fast reaction from police and EMS. They were there quickly.”

Amberly R. Taylor, who resides in Oklahoma City, was in Dumas to see her son Nicholas Elijah Evans receive an award during the festival. Nicholas, 13, is a music artist and political speaker who lives in Lake Village, Taylor said.

“We left the event two minutes before everything started happening, and we were back two minutes afterward,” Taylor said. “My youngest son did not want to stay. He’s 11 and he just has that gift of knowing when something is about to happen. When God tells you to move, you move.”

Taylor recalled seeing a community member shielding another person after the shots rang out. The peace of a small-town celebration was somehow disrupted by violence, by many accounts.

“It was a beautiful vibe, very family oriented,” Taylor said. “It was a peaceful gathering until it wasn’t. I’m completely baffled as to why the shots were fired so fast. It seems like somebody walked in and did something horrible and then walked out.”

Hood-Nic offered something for the children, Thornton said, adding no one could predict the evening would turn tragic.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” Thornton said. “It’s sad.”

Chris Jones, a Democratic candidate for governor originally from Pine Bluff, issued a statement overnight on Twitter, saying he was “heartbroken” about the mass shooting.

“I attended the event earlier in the day,” Jones said. “We registered voters, enjoyed good music and celebrated a positive family environment. I saw old friends and met many new ones.

“I am deeply saddened (and honestly angered) by this tragedy.

“Dumas needs our thoughts, our prayers — and our action. Join me in praying for the victims, their families, the first responders and the entire Dumas community.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, posted on Twitter as she retweeted a television report:

“Prayers for the community of Dumas for the senseless and tragic shooting at a community event [Saturday] night. Thankful for our law enforcement and first responders for their actions during this difficult time.”

— I.C. Murrell


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