Authorities tightening enforcement in wake of Smith County trail ride shooting

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Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 4:31 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2022 at 8:55 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - After a recent shooting that injured five people at a trail ride event, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith announced that all such events will soon be subject to multiple points of regulation and approval.

Around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 26, five people were shot when gunfire broke out at a trail ride event held in a pasture off FM 2767 in the Winona area. One of the victims remains in serious condition following surgery Friday afternoon. In response to the shooting, Smith announced at a press conference on Friday that all such events in Smith County will now be subject to approval from multiple agencies before the event’s organizers can proceed. Those agencies include the offices of the Smith County sheriff, fire marshal and constables. Smith added that event organizers as well as land or property owners can and will be held accountable in the future.

Smith said these still-in-development policies will include applying for gathering permits, as well as the venue or property undergoing inspection to ensure compliance regarding bathroom facilities, food vendor safety, emergency vehicle accessibility and potential fire hazards such as unmowed dead grass. Events that feature horses will now need to provide proof that the animal owners have conducted and passed a Coggins test for the horses.

Penalties for failing to gain proper permitting or passing inspection will be classified as a Class B misdemeanor, subject to a $500 fine and/or jail time. After two additional infractions, it will be considered a state jail felony. Further, Smith said that if property owners continue to hold “nuisance” events that fail to obtain proper permits and approval, Smith County will file a civil procedure against said property owners with the intent of seizing the property.

Smith County Fire Marshal Jay Brooks added that a gathering permit must first be obtained before an event can even be advertised.

Smith said he isn’t trying to make it harder for people to lawfully and peacefully hold these events.

“We’re against trail riding with violence involved,” Smith said “We’re not going to put up with people coming in from out of town and acting the fool.”

Regarding the Sunday shooting, Smith said the investigation is ongoing and that numerous people have been interviewed, including the organizer of the event and a person involved with the event’s security team.

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