COLUMBIA — The Boone County Sheriff's Department is stepping up security at the Boone County Fair after a Friday-night shooting put a teenager in the hospital and left investigators looking for a suspect.
Major Tom Reddin said the department had some good leads after questioning several people, and the shooting was possibly a retaliatory incident among "young, wanna-be gang members" feuding in Columbia.
No one was in custody as of 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
"We have in this shooting, as in others, run into a lack of cooperation," Reddin said. "Even the victim didn't want to give his name to staff at the hospital. We're running into the code of silence, if you will."
The shooting happened at about 9:30 p.m. Friday. Fair worker L.J. Edmond said that four or five people were fighting behind a tent. He said he then heard someone "unload a gun" and he saw people run away.
One man, 19 years old, was hit in the back of his upper leg, just below the buttock. Paramedics treated the man on-scene as he lay facedown on the pavement, shirtless. After he was taken away to a local hospital, there was a pool of blood where he had been laying that was still visible Saturday afternoon.
Reddin said the injuries were non-life threatening, but he didn't yet know whether the teen had been released.
He added that at least nine shots were fired and that there was probably only one shooter.
One of the department's six deputies working security at the fair was less than 100 yards away when the shooting happened, said Reddin, who called the incident an indication of the "brazen nature" of those involved.
"They didn't care who was around," Reddin said.
After the shooting, the fairgrounds were not evacuated and a concert continued playing. Reddin said the department was likely to increase the number of officers staffing the fair for the rest of the weekend.
George Harris, general manager of the Boone County Fairgrounds, called Friday night's reaction by officials appropriate. He said security was likely to be increased for the duration of the fair, but said he didn't have specifics yet.
"The fair has been going on for many years and this is the first time anything like this has ever happened," Harris said. "We hope it's the last time."
Reddin asked that anyone with information call Crime Stoppers at 875-8477, or ask for a detective at the Boone County Sheriff's Department, reachable at 875-1111.
Nicholas Jain and Will Guldin contributed to this report.