Police provide new details on Friday incident at Heritage Bowl

Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 6:17 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Friday night lights quickly turn sour at the 61st annual Heritage Bowl. The game is a well attended annual match between Carver and Spencer high schools in Columbus.

Investigators believe two girls were fighting inside the stadium. The ensuing events caused a panic that caused players on the field to hit the ground and let to a stoppage in play. The game was eventually suspended.

No injuries were reported.

Three teens were arrested and face various weapon charges. The weapons were found outside of the stadium in the parking lot. It is not clear if the weapons were ever fired on Friday night.

Muscogee County School Board Member Pat Hugley believes more security is needed to prevent future incidents.

“At this point, what went on is purely a public safety issue. Instead of being in reactionary mode, they should have been in place as they have been for decades,” said Hugley.

Lance Deaton with the Columbus Police Department told WTVM officers were spread out across multiple games on Friday. “There were three football games going on simultaneously at the same time. That’s unusual,” stated Deaton. “Normally they don’t run more than two at a time. Resources were strained,” he added.

Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman says his office was never part of any preparation meeting for the game, but says his deputies were in the area.

The Muscogee County School District released a statement following the incident:

The Columbus Police Department has made three arrests following last night’s incident at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium regarding juveniles in possession of weapons discovered outside of the event and the stadium.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges will be filed once all parties are identified.

We are reviewing all procedures and changes will be forthcoming to ensure the safety of visitors, students and staff at all athletic events.

Such behavior is unacceptable and does not reflect the mission, vision and values of the District. We are committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety and enjoyment of future events.

Muscogee County School District