What's next for SantaCaliGon Days? Independence city leaders discuss extra security

SantaCaliGon Days
Posted at 5:44 PM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 18:44:33-04

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — People at the SantaCaliGon Days Festival in Independence said they want to see extra security so that shootings, like one which happened on Sunday night, don't happen again.

"I still, for the most part, think it's a safe place to come and have fun," Cassie Cramer said Monday. "You're going to have a few people everywhere you go and where you live [who are] going to want to spoil things."

Four people, three of whom are 16 years old, were hit by stray bullets Sunday night around 11 p.m. The fourth victim is 25 years old.

Independence police said two males were arguing in the carnival area, but police are not sure of their ages. One pulled a gun from his backpack and started shooting, sending bullets ricocheting throughout the game booths.

The victims have already been released from the hospital after being treated for injuries on their feet and legs.

Police are tracking down the suspect.

"We're looking at video from the carnival area, festival area to see if we can identify anyone. We're still going through a few tips we got in that may lead us to something," IPD Ofc. Jack Taylor said Monday.

The Independence Chamber of Commerce and the city council put on the festival every year and Independence police provides security.

Right now, they're looking into extra security measures and possibly a curfew for next year's festival, similar to what is in place at the Independence Center after several shootings happened there as well.

"I don't like it but it looks like society is going to push us into this," Independence City Councilman Mike Huff said. "They had a carnival at the event center a few weeks ago in which they had one-point entry and metal detectors, which, you know, is a little inconvenient but it's for the safety of our patrons and citizens in the city."

The festival covers a large area and people can come and go as they please.

Taylor said one of the ideas for next year includes closing in the carnival area so people can only enter from one gate.

"A lot of the kids that come down here, they don't come down here for the tents that cause the problem, they get dropped off for the carnival area, so that probably would help out a lot next year," Cramer said.

Carol Salinas, vice president of the Independence Community of Concerned Citizens, said she could feel tensions rising Sunday night.

"I told them, the people that run the carnival, that they needed to close it down because I saw a lot of pushing and shoving of young people," Salinas said. "They said they couldn't close it down. The police department said it was up to them and it stayed open. And I got home and turned on the news and... It's not all about the money — it's about life."

Salinas isn't the only person who saw young people fighting near the festival over the weekend.

Darren Eller and Melissa Springs told KSHB 41 News they could have died Saturday night.

"Her car was hit, missed the gas tank by literally inches," Eller said, referring to Springs' car.

Eller and Springs witnessed a separate shooting Saturday night after they left SantaCaliGon Days. They say they saw a group of young men who looked like they were coming from the carnival, one of which had a gun.

They were driving, just a couple blocks away from the festival.

"We went down, crossed Noland and one block behind Noland and Walnut at an auto care center, a car sped around us and started opening fire on that group of ten juveniles," Eller said.

Those bullets hit Springs' car. They stayed on-scene and talked to police until after midnight.

Police said they aren't sure if that incident had anything to do with the festival.

Eller and Springs said they are pretty shaken up.

"Actually when I left the other night I swore I was never coming back," Springs said. "Because it just seems like it's just getting worse every year. But we talked about it and thought maybe it won't be so bad during the day."

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