By Bonnie Culverhouse
A recent Facebook post by the family of 17-year-old Ariel Cage says the Minden High School cheerleader is awake and talking to family after being shot in the back at an un-permitted event in Cotton Valley Saturday night.
“Ariel is talking,” the post reads. “She wants everyone to know she is alive and grateful. A collapsed lung and 3 broken ribs from bullets.”
The post goes on to say Cage is in ICU, and the two young men that rushed her to the hospital likely saved her life. Its also says if the bullet had been 3 centimeters to the right, the outcome may have been tragically different.
“You are our angels,” the post continues. “Please stop this gun violence.”
A 17-year-old Minden High School female student was shot in the back and is in critical condition at Ochsner LSU in Shreveport following a Saturday night shooting that occurred during an un-permitted trail ride in Cotton Valley. Two others were injured.
“We got the call around 9:30 last night,” Sheriff Jason Parker said Sunday morning. “It’s property at the dead end of Crow Street, where a portion of the property is in the city limits and a portion in the parish.”
According to public record, one acre of property inside the Cotton Valley town limits is owned by Yolanda Shaw Palmer, whereas the 79 acre-pasture outside the city is owned by Palmer, Reginald Shaw and the late Jarvis Shaw.
Parker went on to say, permits for the one acre are normally applied for by Reginald Shaw’s brother George Shaw, however, no permits – town or parish – were on record as having been assigned for Saturday’s event, something that is required by law in both places if the attendee number reaches a certain number.
“They’ve been skating around this by saying these trail rides are at the front part of the property, which is in the city limits,” Parker said. “But the rest of the pasture area is in the parish. I’ve been telling them that if the number gets to 200-250 and it extends into the pasture, they have to get a parish permit.”
Parker said he believes the organizers knew they needed a permit.
“They certainly did not contact me,” Parker said. “Even the police jury had no idea.”
Parker said the altercation began between two females and escalated into gunfire from multiple shooters.
“We’ve got 9mm rounds, 40 caliber rounds, 223 rounds – which is an assault-type weapon,” he said. “We’ve got one in critical condition – a Minden High School student – shot in the back and transported to LSU. Two other persons were seriously injured, but they are stable.”
He is unsure how many vehicles or attendees were at this event, however, he said the entrance road was almost completely blocked, making it difficult for emergency vehicles, including the ambulance to access the event. Two attendees took the gunshot victim to the hospital.
“That’s why there’s an ordinance,” Parker continued. “So emergency vehicles can get there. They just don’t care. These people just see $15 a head. It’s a money-making deal for them.”
Parker went on to say that until property owners and trail ride organizers are held responsible, “this sort of thing will continue.”
No citations have been issued, but the investigation is ongoing.
“We will do everything we can to hold the organizers and property owners accountable,” said the sheriff. “And since there were no permits, these people are certainly wide open for civil liability.”
Watch for more updates in Webster Parish Journal.