7 people shot at off-campus party during Texas HBCU’s homecoming weekend

A sign at the Prairie View A&M University entrance, Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Prairie View, Tex. (Kirby Lee via AP)

Seven people, including a child, were shot Sunday at a packed off-campus party¬†near Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black college in Texas, said the Waller County Sheriff’s Office.

The event, a trail ride pasture party that¬†over a thousand people attended, was hosted during Prairie View A&M’s homecoming weekend, about 2 miles from the university‚Äôs campus.

A spokesperson for the university said it’s not known if any of the people who were injured or involved are affiliated with Prairie View A&M University.

‚ÄúAlthough this was not an official PVAMU homecoming event and was unaffiliated with the university, our campus community is deeply concerned for those injured and all affected by this incident,‚ÄĚ a university spokesperson said.

The incident comes just weeks after five people were injured in a mass shooting at¬†Morgan State University, causing homecoming to be canceled for the first time in the university’s history.

At Prairie View A&M, police were called to the scene shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday and discovered that four adult females, two adult males, and one juvenile male had sustained gunshot wounds to their lower bodies. They had no known life-threatening injuries,¬†the Waller County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The injured people were bystanders to a dispute, which an unknown number of people at the party were involved in, the sheriff’s office said. The statement classifies the incident as aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Under a local ordinance, the mass gathering, which took place in a field and offered horseback trailer rides, had to be approved. Waller County Judge Trey Duhon, who signed off, said in a statement on Facebook that the ordinance was put in place more than three years ago when similar events held in pastures started becoming an issue. In the most recent incident, a party promoter had attended a hearing on a permit application and agreed to security, noise level, sanitation and fire safety requirements.

“The organizers failed to meet permit conditions on a number of issues, and an investigation is ongoing at this time, not only into the shooting itself, but the circumstances surrounding the event, the parking situation on public roads, the trash and litter, and the permit requirements that were not met,” Duhon said in the statement.

The event’s permit, which was also posted by Duhon on Facebook, specified that 35 security personnel, over one half of which had to be licensed peace officers, needed to be on site. Security for the party was provided by Waller County Precinct 3 Constables and an unknown private security agency, according to police.

“None of the security protocols that were established by the permitting body and agreed to by the promoter were found to be followed at the time of the incident,” said the Waller County Sheriff’s Office.

Joe Sansone, who lives next door to where the party was held, said he called 911 to get the event shut down shortly before 7 p.m. He said the party’s organizers failed to comply with permit requirements by allowing parking on private property, letting people walk on the road and allowing four-wheel vehicles in.

Sansone said he attended the hearing when the mass gathering permit was approved because the party has been a problem for him and other neighbors multiple years in a row. Last year, partygoers trespassed on his property and chased his livestock around, he said.

“This is the third year that I know of that this has been going on in my backyard,” said Sansone. “They didn’t abide by anything they were told in the permit meeting.”

There was also traffic during the event because people attending had illegally parked their vehicles on the street, and their cars were towed, said a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office.

The case is still under investigation. A spokesperson from the Waller County Sheriff’s Office said that a news conference about the incident would be held Monday but could not provide a time.

Since the shooting at Morgan State University, other historically black colleges and universities have also faced similar incidents.

In August, a police officer at Edward Waters University in Florida diverted a shooter from the campus, but the suspect went on to fatally shoot three people at a nearby dollar store.

Last month, two students at Bowie State University in Maryland sustained non-life-threatening injuries after a shooting.