Coastal Empire fair re-opens with increased safety - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Coastal Empire fair re-opens with increased safety

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The show goes on at the Coastal Empire Fair.

The line of fairgoers stretched across the parking lot just before gates opened at 5 p.m. Thursday. To get in, each fairgoer had to walk through a metal detector and have their bags searched.

Tashard Orr, accused in June of taking part in a 2012 shooting that left eight people injured, remained at large when the gates opened, but fairgoers weren't worried.

"I don't think he's hanging around here no more," said Robert Jones, who came to the fair with his young daughter. "I think he went on about his way. We're going to survive it this time. I don't think we're going to have no problems."

Fourteen Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan police officers patrolled the Midway. Chatham County sheriff's deputies manned the entrances, making attendees feel safer.

"We're not worried about what happened last year," said Natasha Love, who brought four children to the fair. "We just come out to have a good time."

The District Attorney's office says gang violence led to a shootout on the Midway last year.

The groups implicated are dubbed the Hell Hole and Tatumville gangs. Nine of their alleged members were included in a 97-count Chatham County gang indictment that came down in June.

These groups aren't associated with national gangs, DA Special Gang Prosecutor Matt Breedon told me. They're neighborhood groups, but Breedon says they're still dangerous.

"You have to remember these overarching national gangs, the Bloods and the Crips. They started out as neighborhood associations."

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