Bogalusa mayor urges LHSAA to reverse decision to relocate football season finale in wake of stadium shooting
BOGALUSA, La. (WVUE) - Bogalusa High School was ordered to play its final home football game at a neutral site, after opponents, administrators and state sports officials expressed concern about recent gun violence in the city, school officials told Fox 8 on Thursday (Oct. 27).
Bogalusa City Schools superintendent Lisa Tanner said Bogalusa’s scheduled Nov. 4 game against Albany was ordered to be moved by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA), following a 3-2 vote by the athletic district’s principals.
“I’m very saddened, and just astonished,” Tanner said. “The concern is that there are shootings going on in our community, and that is something we can’t police. But we can police our facility and we can make sure you get to your busses and your vehicles safely after a ballgame. And we have taken extreme measures to see that that is done.
“This is just disheartening to see something like this done, when it’s out of our control and its not our children or our fans.”
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Tanner said the relocation order was in apparent response to the Oct. 14 gunfight that Bogalusa Police said occurred just outside the team’s stadium during the fourth quarter of the school’s homecoming game.
Police said an armed and wanted 15-year-old from Covington -- identified as Jerry Smith -- was fatally shot in that gun battle with at least two other suspects who remain at large.
Bogalusa High principal Dr. Eric Greely said he received a call from the Albany High principal a day or two after that shooting, and assured his counterpart that the Bogalusa grounds were safe and that the gunfight was “an isolated incident.”
“He said, ‘Would you consider playing at a neutral site or coming to play here?’” Greely said. “I said, ‘That wouldn’t be fair to our kids. We’re going to have Senior Night. It’s a home game for us where we earn income and we have home-field advantage.’
“He did not like my answer, so therefore he took the process a little bit farther, and he filed a complaint (with the LHSAA). ... I’ve never seen or heard of this happening before.”
Tanner said her school district plans to appeal the decision, though it was unclear how that process would unfold or how soon a final ruling would be made.
Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette sent a letter Friday to the executive director of the LHSAA, urging him to reverse the decision.
“Safety should always be a concern for LHSAA, but this decision is unwarranted,” said Perrette. “Those responsible for that horrible crime were not BHS students, nor were they even Bogalusa residents. It would be very unfortunate for this winning team to have to play its final game of the season at another location.”
The full letter reads:
As mayor, as a citizen, and as a graduate of Bogalusa High School, I implore you to reconsider the LHSAA’s decision to prevent Bogalusa High School’s football team from completing its season on its home field next week.
I am certainly aware of the gunfire that occurred at the BHS stadium on Oct. 14; I was in the stands when it happened, celebrating Homecoming at my alma mater. I am also very aware that the perpetrators of this horrible crime were not from Bogalusa, but had brought their criminal behavior to our community from elsewhere.
Since becoming mayor eight years ago, I have worked hard to improve and expand our Police Department, giving them all the tools they need. We work intimately with the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, and recently joined a multi-agency Violent Crime Task Force. Contrary to what you may have been told, Bogalusa is not in the midst of a crime wave. Violent crime has increased this year, yes – as it has in almost every city throughout the nation. We are working hard not only to apprehend wrongdoers, but to prevent crime from occurring.
If it would satisfy LHSAA, we will add additional security to our already-enhanced force for game night. I’ll pay for it myself, if I need to.
Please allow the students of BHS to end their season on a high note – and at home!
Bogalusa ran its record to 7-1 with Thursday’s 56-15 rout at Pine.
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