OLATHE, Kan. – You may have seen the video floating around social media. You may have seen the tweets, which include people adamantly proclaiming “We heard and saw gunshots” while at Old Settlers Days in downtown Olathe.
The last hour of Olathe’s 121st Old Settlers Days was marked by running and screaming, and all captured on social media.
“You know how rumors spread?” Misa Rainbolt asked FOX4 while she stood near the carnival area of Old Settlers Saturday night. “People were just making up rumors now, and things were just flying all of the sudden. Texting and making phone calls, and calling the police. And it was really nothing.”
In the sunshine on Sunday afternoon, the lawn between the Johnson County Courthouse and Administration Building is empty and quiet. But Saturday night, Jay Lang said the green was full of teens.
“I’m going to say it’s a 100 to 125 kids, yeah,” said the Grounds Chairperson and 22 year volunteer of Old Settlers Days. Lang said he was standing on the lawn near the crowd of teens Saturday night when the panic unfolded.
“There was a shoving match,” he described. “Two kids, and they were I would guess, maybe 13 or 14 – one shoved the other,” Lang said. “Well, the kid that was shoved got and took off and started running. When he did that, the kid who shoved him started running after him, towards the intersection of Kansas and Santa Fe.”
“The next thing I know, all the kids all the sudden, they started running,” Lang said, pointing towards the Johnson County Jail. “These kids saw they were running, and all of them, like a school of fish took off. And when one turned, all of them turned. But they all ran towards the two that were evidently in the shoving match.”
So the mob of teens chased them to watch. Except the two fighting teens ran right into police officers.
“I think the group of all the kids that were running saw that the police were there,” said Lang with a shrug. “They turned back around and ran back through just like and once again, the leader, when he turned, all the kids turned. And all the kids went back through here,” and he gestured to where he stood, by the fountain between the Courthouse and Administration Building.
And then, social media took over. “Because of social media, things get blown up out of proportion,” Lang said.
Tweets flew. “I just picked up my daughter who had to run and hide from someone who said he had a gun.” Another read “When you hear ‘gun’ and people running, I don’t ask questions, I just run.”
Lang shook his head. “I can’t understand where someone is saying ‘Oh, they heard gunshots!’ I don’t know where from.” Lang said he heard nothing of the sort. He said someone thought a stabbing occurred at Old Settlers Days. That’s also not true. Police had no serious injuries reported. Serious, the Olathe police explained, means anything that required an ambulance.
There were 24 law enforcement officers at Old Settlers Saturday night. There were 12 firefighters and EMS at the event. As of now, there has not been one report filed. However, Olathe Police are urging anyone who saw something to report it by calling 913-971-7500.
Despite not having a single report to police, the social media storm didn’t slow from Saturday night into Sunday. “There’s no stopping it,” said Lang. “There’s no stopping it anymore. I can assure people it didn’t happen,” he added emphatically.
That doesn’t mean a shooting can’t happen in downtown Olathe during Old Settlers Days. As Lang said, “I think we’re all starting to realize that some of the things that have happened other places can happen here.”
But it means a shooting didn’t happen in downtown Olathe during Old Settlers Days.