It’s nearly been a year since law enforcement shot a man at the Jefferson County Fair who stole an AR-15 rifle and threatened several people. Police say Rafael Gomez stole the rifle from an unlocked truck in the fair parking lot.
This year, the Jefferson County Fair security is getting a makeover. After the incident, Fair Board Chair Al Short says a committee made up of state and local law enforcement along with Jefferson County Fire and EMS was created.
“To enhance our security measures just to help mitigate any future risks,” said Short. “We want people to walk in and know that these things are put in place, and they’re here to continue to have fun.”
Short says they will have more security, lighting and two camera towers.
“The camera towers are only there in case an incident happens,” Short said. “Not to record people. That would only be accessible to law enforcement and Jefferson County commissioners, not the Fair Board.”
The fair will only have two points of entry this year, and the Jefferson County EMS will have an emergency station with plans for a medical helicopter pad.
During the gunman incident, the man escaped through a hole in the fence after being chased off by armed bystanders. He fled the scene and headed for a gas station, where worker Dean Staten says the armed man came right toward them.
Almost a year later and Staten is still recovering from the traumatic event.
“It took me a little while to deal with it, but other than that, just going in front of the grand jury and keeping up to date on what they’re doing,” Staten said. “Just got a phone call yesterday, actually, that it’s probably going to be next month. The trial is going to actually happen. But, yeah, it was an experience, and it’s something that never leaves you, that’s for sure.”
Despite the incident last year and the cost of security upgrades, the fair will still be free to enter, and you can do just that between July 19-22nd.