TROUP COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL) — On Nov. 3, chaos broke out during a high school football game outside of Callaway Stadium in LaGrange. People were seen running in multiple directions. After the incident, the Troup County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) is working with the Troup County School System (TCSS) and other agencies on an action plan; safety being the top priority.

Something happened out there that caused people inside of the stadium to react. Was it a noise? Was it gunshots? We really don’t know at this point. We’re not going to go down that road again and debate further. But, something happened that caused panic inside the stadium.

Stewart Smith, Troup County Sheriff’s Office PIO

The highly anticipated high school football game between rivals, Troup County Tigers and LaGrange Grangers, attracted thousands of spectators. Many were tailgating at the adjacent LaGrange College parking lot before attending the game.

What started as a tailgate soon turned into what some say, was “a block party gone wrong.”

A lot of people were running because they saw another crowd running. They reacted to it. They didn’t know why people were running, but they said, ‘hey, we need to run, too.’ And it just created a lot of panic.

Stewart Smith, Troup County Sheriff’s Office PIO

TCSO, LaGrange College, and several other agencies are working towards an action plan for future high school sporting events. On the agenda: eliminating tailgating at the college’s parking lot.

I’m sure there was drinking involved, alcohol, probably illegal drugs taking place out there. That allowed them to be out there all day long. We had that taking place outside… the crowd inside, and you’re talking about around 5,000 people with a staff of probably, at most, 30 people.

Stewart Smith, Troup County Sheriff’s Office PIO

While local authorities are not sure what caused the incident, they agree what happened serves as a lesson learned moving forward.

It’s not just something that takes place here. It’s taking place in Columbus, Atlanta, all over the nation. The small things we can do to eliminate the tailgating, to encourage or have parents there. That way, if something happens, the kids will have an adult with them, because that’s one problem we had. When this took place, there were a lot of kids running around.

Stewart Smith, Troup County Sheriff’s Office PIO

Effective immediately, LaGrange College and the Troup County Government are not permitting any tailgating on either of their properties. TCSS also encourages spectators to review the rules for all athletic games including the clear bag policy and weapon screening before entering the stadium.

Troup County EMA Director, Zac Steele, says their emergency management team will be visiting sporting events across the state to meet with other public safety agencies. The goal is to have a safety plan in place for all events at Callaway Stadium starting fall 2024.

For a look at TCSS’s full statement regarding tailgating updates and safety procedures at Callaway Stadium, click here.