Temperatures are warming up and that means the arrival of "trail ride" season but another shooting at an event this past weekend has once again put them into the spotlight in East Texas.

After a string of violent events at trail rides last year, the Smith County Sheriff's Office and other East Texas police agencies implemented a "Mass Gathering Ordinance" also known as a "trail ride enforcement" plan which effectively demanded that trail ride organizers follow a set of guidelines that ensure the event will be safe. Despite these efforts, violence continues at some of these events unfortunately and its time to ask if "trail rides" are over in our area.

"A Recipe For Disaster"

According to reports from KETK and CBS19, Around 9:40 p.m. on Saturday, Smith County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to 13943 County Road 46 also known as Old New Harmony Rd., by Spring Creek Baptist Church and found “massive amounts of people” at a trail ride event. According to officials, two people were shot at the event and taken to two separate local hospitals. One person was released overnight and the other is still hospitalized. Their injuries are non-life threatening.

Israel Allen Ortiz, 27, of Tyler

Smith County Jail
Smith County Jail

Multiple law enforcement agencies also responded to assist due to the number of people at the event. The three arrested suspects are felons and were allegedly found to have had five handguns between them.

Jakeithon Marcilous Medlock, 26, of Tyler

Smith County Jail
Smith County Jail

Some have argued that the event wasn't a "trail ride" but instead was billed as a "pasture party". Regardless, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith says that organizers did not follow the "Mass Gathering" protocol and they will continue to investigate what happened.

Sir Ricardel Oritz, 29, of Tyler

Smith County Jail
Smith County Jail

The three men were arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and deadly conduct by discharging a firearm and all 3 were released after posting $20,000 bond.

In A Press Conference, Sheriff Smith Shares A Warning To Other Trail Ride Event Organizers.

"And I promise you, if we know about it, we are going to stop it before it starts.." Those are the words of Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith at his press conference about the shooting on Monday morning. This is the latest in a growing number of violent incidents at trail rides:

  • In June 2022, five people were shot at a trail ride event off FM 2767.
  • In July 2020, four people were shot during a trail ride on FM 1798 in the Mt. Enterprise area of Rusk County.

Do you think "trail rides" should be allowed to continue in East Texas or should they be outlawed altogether?

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