MADISON (WKOW) — The open and accessible nature of the festival site at Shake the Lake made it difficult to prevent a shooting incident like the one that happened Saturday night, Police Chief Mike Koval said.
“Wanding could have been a deterrent, but this is a porous perimeter,” Koval said during a Monday afternoon news conference. “This is very different than a contained activity.”
“In an open air forum like that, you can’t ever have more than an illusory sense of a barrier,” Koval says. “People can transgress it in so many different directions.”
Despite that, Koval and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said they don’t want to give up our ability to host public celebrations.
Rhodes-Conway also pointed a finger at lawmakers, saying policy needs to change in this country.
“My first choice is for the federal government take the lead here and pass common-sense gun reform,” she said.
Rhodes-Conway said it wasn’t too soon to talk about gun control.
Koval said police plan for multiple contingencies, and that moments after the shooting occurred, police responded quickly.
Dane County Supervisor Yogesh Chawla, his wife and nine year old daughter were near the scene of the shooting. Chawla praises the police’s tactical response. But he questions the background and the role of the private security personnel who carried out screening for the event.
“The security that we saw was a basic bag check,” Chawla says.
Koval and Rhodes-Conway said that they will do an extensive analysis of security procedures before deciding what changes might be necessary for the future.
“We’re not ready to draw conclusions about what this event will look like in the future,” Rhodes Conway said, deflecting a question about whether Shake the Lake should become a gated-type entry and exit.
Two groups of people fought shortly before the shots were fired, according to a Madison Police Department incident report.
“It is believed all individuals involved are from Madison and are known to each other,” police said. “During this physical altercation, an individual pulled out a handgun and fired several rounds.”
One hit a person who has since been treated and released from the hospital after suffering injuries which were not life-threatening.
Another bullet struck a Madison Fire Department vehicle.
Koval says the gun was recovered, and people involved in the fight arrested on charges unrelated to the Saturday violence. But he says those with possible information have not cooperated.
Chawla says what happened following the fireworks show reinforces that anyone can become vulnerable to gun violence, even in a city such as Madison.
“We’re seeing that our family is not safe sometimes in Madison,” Chawla says. “Sometimes there is a perception of Madison that we’re in a bubble. We do not live in a bubble.”
Police said the investigation is continuing and encouraged anyone with information about the shooting to call Crime Stoppers at (608) 266-6014.