Strawberry Fest closed for night after shots fired

The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office reported shots fired near the Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds on April 9, 2022. The festival closed for the night after the reported shots fired.

Sunday, April 10th, will resume as scheduled according to festival organizers. Church service was at 9am, rides open at 10am and entertainment starts at 11am and will go till 6pm.

Ponchatoula Police Dept. said the shooting happened in the 200 block of W. Hickory St. at 9:32pm. There were no injuries according to police.

The Ponchatoula Police Dept. building was hit twice and their awning was hit once. A citizen’s vehicle was also struck by a bullet.

Officers recovered more than a dozen shell casings at the scene. Ponchatoula Police Chief Bry Layrisson said they believe there were at least two shooters.

“We were walking towards the fairgrounds and we heard this popping noise and it sounded like firecrackers and we all stopped. A man next to us said, ‘Ummm, that was an automatic’ and I looked at my husband and asked if that was gunfire. He said ‘No, it had to be firecrackers’ so we just kept walking,” said a witness, who asked to remain anonymous.   

The witness said soon after, it was chaos with everyone who was at the Strawberry Festival running to leave out and officers running towards the gunfire. The witness added several officers had someone on the ground.  

This group of family and friends is from Ponchatoula. They were headed to listen to the band scheduled to play Saturday night at the festival when they heard the shots. Parish County Line was playing from 8pm-10pm and the shooting cut their performance short.

“I’ve never witnessed that. It was crazy in my book because my heart started beating really, really fast. People just took off running. It was horrible. I was scared,” said the witness. “It was packed. Everybody that was on the fairgrounds was running down that one road.”

The witness said the shooting happened around 9:30pm.

“I’ve been coming to the Strawberry Festival my whole life and I tell you what, I’ve never experienced this, ever. I always thought that the Strawberry Fest was safe. I’ve never been around a shooting put it that way. I couldn’t find my sister or my cousin because of the chaos with everyone running and we ended up getting split up, but I did find them. I was just scared,” said the witness.

Anyone with information surrounding this incident is asked to contact the Ponchatoula Police Department at 985-386-6548.

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