Police say social media fueled Wilson Co. fair shooting rumors


LEBANON, Tenn. (WKRN) – A shooting scare at the Wilson County fair sent fairgoers running out thinking they were in danger Saturday night. Police say their fears were unfounded and only made worse on social media.

“There are kids running, there are parents running on the phone, they’re crying,” said Ashley Lawson who was at the fair when the incident happened around 10 p.m.

Lawson says she didn’t see or hear anything except crowds of people running.

“My sister called me said, ‘You need to get over here now, there is supposedly an active shooter. We don’t know what’s going on, we don’t know where you are like we need to meet up now,'” Lawson recalled.

Lebanon police say a brawl broke out between some local kids and somehow people started screaming there was an active shooter.

“There were reports of people that were in the general area either through their own nervousness or it could have been intentional created some other situations that were just not warranted,” Sgt. PJ Hardy said.

Police immediately arrested four juveniles for disorderly conduct. They say there were no guns, no shots fired, and no serious injuries, but people took to social media spreading a different story.

“I was actually getting mad because we heard anything from 30 people were shot, it was a stabbing,” Lawson said, “I read something where somebody said there were four shooters and they were shooting at my kids.”

Police reviewed hundreds of surveillance cameras they’d set up throughout the fair and confirm that there is no truth behind the rumors.

“With the advent of social media, things get put out there. Erroneous information is put out,” Hardy said, “People can type whatever they want to on that keyboard, behind that screen, but no one has stepped up and said, ‘Hey I saw this that and the other.'”

He adds, “At this point, we just see this as an isolated incident that got blown out of proportion. And it may have been blown out of proportion intentionally.”

“This is the Wilson county fair, we, I never felt unsafe, I felt kind of, you know, what’s going on? But I never felt unsafe, and I mean we’re back out here tonight,” Lawson said.

After reviewing the cameras, police are also going to make three more arrests including adults who they say were joining in to create what they are calling a “riot.” They say they are also looking into those that were spreading the rumors.

Police and fairgoers tell us the incident occurred during a tractor pull so people may have mistaken a backfiring tractor for gunshots.

Both police and the Wilson County Sheriff’s office say every safety measure that they had in place worked and the fair is very safe for everyone.

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