By Malcolm Butler and Kyle Roberts
The day after a random bullet hit the visitor’s dugout during the Ruston High versus Benton High softball game at the Ruston Sports Complex, officials say their investigation has shown no intent but has not led to a firm answer.
Although a call to the Ruston Police Department for additional information was not returned, the Lincoln Parish Journal spoke to a number of local officials directly involved and with knowledge of the event and of Wednesday’s continued investigation.
Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker said authorities are confident that the incident was not intentional or malicious.
“It was not a targeted issue,” said Walker. “We are thankful no one was hurt. We will continue to have security as we always do out there moving forward. But this was a random issue and not an act of violence.”
Lincoln Parish School Board Superintendent Ricky Durrett echoed Walker’s sentiments.
“I think it’s fine,” said Durrett. “I think this was an isolated incident of a random shot up in the air from a good ways off. We worked with authorities to pinpoint where it came from. We have been told (that authorities) feel confident it was a random, unfortunate incident.
“We have had no problems out there before, and we don’t anticipate any more. I think the ballpark is a great facility and a great place to play. We have felt safe and feel safe moving forward.”
The Ruston Sports Complex is located south of town, close to the parish line that separates Lincoln and Jackson Parishes.
“We did work with the RPD and the (Lincoln Parish) Sheriff’s Office to see where it may have come from,” said Durrett. “It was a scary situation (Tuesday night), and we are glad no one was hurt. But it appears to be an isolated, random situation.”
Both Ruston High School’s home softball and baseball fields are off campus and located in the footprint of the Ruston Sports Complex. Ruston High principal Dan Gressett said it’s not uncommon to hear shots based on the proximity to properties outside of the city limits, where owners have the right to shoot in their yards.
“It’s not uncommon to hear people shooting from a distance out there,” said Gressett. “I have heard it myself out there. I know (the police) patrolled the area (last night and today), questioned some people, and still don’t know exactly where it came from. It was very random.”
Gressett admitted he had a few Ruston High softball parents call the school Wednesday asking about any concerns. He said he has none.
“Yes. We absolutely feel it’s safe,” said Gressett. “My daughter plays out there. And I feel very safe out there.”
A parent of a Ruston High softball player in attendance Tuesday night, who asked to not be identified, shared the same sentiments that while it was a surprising incident, no one felt any sort of individual threat. The parent said everyone was calm and there was no real sense of danger.
“In the past when we’ve been there, we’ve heard gunshots around the complex,” the parent said. “We’ve heard that several times, so nobody really thought about it. Usually it’s like target practice (off in the distance).
“What we heard was like a glass bottle shattering on the concrete, but no gun shot before it. The girls kept on playing until they called “time” and the Benton coach called our coach over to the dug out. The administrator then came and saw there was a bullet in the dug out.
“It never registered to me that someone was shooting at our girls. That thought never crossed my mind.”
Anyone with any information that may help should contact the Ruston Police Department at 318-255-4141.