An employee at a Mississippi campground was fired after pulling a gun on a black couple having a picnic and ordering them to leave the property.
Jessica Richardson, 26, and her husband, Franklin Richardson, 28, say they had been looking for a place to enjoy the vistas of Oktibbeha County Lake in eastern Mississippi with their puppy over Memorial Day weekend.
They searched online for a nearby Kampgrounds of America location and decided to drive to the Starkville spot on Sunday, the couple told local CBS affiliate WCBI.
The Richardsons said they were told at the campground’s front office that they did not need a reservation to picnic by the lake. But minutes later, a white woman who identified herself as the property manager pulled up in a pickup truck, flashed a gun and told them to leave.
That’s when Jessica pulled out her cellphone and recorded a video of stock exchanges that went viral after she posted it on her Facebook page.
“This lady literally merely pulled a handgun because we out here and didn’t have reservations for a lagoon that we didn’t even know we had to have reservation for, ” Jessica said in the video.
A gray-haired woman wearing a yellow KOA shirt can be seen walking toward the couple with a firearm in her helping hand. A KOA staffer identified the woman as Ruby Howell.
Click below to watch the video.
“We didn’t know, ma’am, ” Franklin can be heard saying.
Howell then placed the gun in her pocket.
“Well, I’m just telling you you need to leave because it’s under private ownership, ” she said. “You can’t be out here.”
“That’s fine, ” said Jessica as she walked away. Franklin can be seen leading their dog off the site.
Kampgrounds of America confirmed the incident in a statement and said it “does not condone the use of a firearm in any manner on our properties.”
The incident involved a campsite employee and two persons seeking to access a pond via the campground’s private property.
Unfortunately, the campground employee felt it necessary to display a handgun during the interaction with the two individuals and their dog.
Kampgrounds of America does not condone the use of a firearm in any manner on our properties or those owned and operated by our franchisees. The employee involved in the incident has been relieved of her duties at the Starkville KOA.
Howell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jessica told WCBI that Howell had treated them like they were “a dog” when she first arrived on the scene.
“She was just like,’ get, get, you don’t belong here, you don’t belong here, you don’t belong here, ’” Jessica said. “The fact that she used’ get, get’ like we were a dog. You say’ get, get’ to a stray dog that’s on your porch.”
Franklin, an Army National Guard sergeant who recently returned from a nine-month deployment in the Middle East, told WCBI he was frightened and confused by the incident.
“You go over there and don’t have a gun pointed at you, ” he said of his time serving overseas. “And you come back home and the first thing that happens is you have a gun pointed at you. It’s kind of crazy to think about.”
The Richardsons are only the latest people of color to have a cellphone video run viral after recording a white person confronting them for engaging in apparently mundane activities.