Safety concerns arise after incident abruptly stops football game at Memorial Stadium

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 5:11 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2022 at 5:15 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - “It was scary for a lot of people.”

Ronald Cooper took his 17-year-old daughter Rahnie and her friends to the Benedictine versus Jenkins football game at Memorial Stadium on Friday night.

“People just started running from different directions.”

The police department said a fight was stopped before it happened. No shots were fired, and no one was injured. Some people that were in the stands claim they saw someone with a gun, which caused Rahnie and many others to panic.

“When my daughter did get to me, like I said, she was crying already, shook up a little bit and I’m asking her what happened and she said she don’t know she just heard somebody say something about a gun,” Cooper said.

The incident bringing a bigger concern to her father’s attention.

“We got in and walked straight in. Nobody checked us. We didn’t go through any metal detectors,” he said.

While the Savannah-Chatham County school district usually has their own medal detectors at games their schools host, they couldn’t set up security at the stadium because they weren’t the home team and didn’t rent out the facility. They only had school resource officers with the Jenkins High team.

Cooper believes there should always be security checking people before they can enter the stadium.

“Some people come to cause confusion and trouble so that’s something that they should be worried about during whatever event that they have,” Cooper said. “I think they should make a change.”

Memorial Stadium is owned by Chatham County. County Commissioner Dean Kicklighter says after hearing these safety concerns he plans to recommend some changes to these entrances.

In a statement sent to WTOC, the District 7 Commissioner Dean says, “Although providing security is the duty of the party that is renting the facility, I believe that it would be in the best interest of the public’s safety for the county to purchase and require the use of metal detectors at all entrances at all future events held at Memorial Stadium. So, I will recommend and or support a motion to purchase and install metal detectors at the stadium at this coming Fridays commission meeting.”

Benedictine Military School also sent WTOC a statement: “When Benedictine Military School hosts football games at Memorial Stadium, BC employs off-duty police officers through the Savannah Police Department. The SPD recommends that BC use six officers at our regular-season home games. In addition to those six officers, BC hires at least four additional security officers and provides at least 14 school personnel to work the venue. In addition, a clear bag policy is in place at all home football games.”