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Update: Witness says she saw man pull gun from vehicle, fire outside Biloxi graduation

By WESLEY MULLER

wmuller@sunherald.com

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TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD 
 A shooting was reported at Biloxi High's graduation at Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center on Friday, May 24, 2016.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD A shooting was reported at Biloxi High's graduation at Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center on Friday, May 24, 2016.

BILOXI -- People reported hearing gunshots Tuesday from a crowd that was fighting in the parking lot of the Coast Coliseum, shortly after the Biloxi High School graduation ceremony.

Coliseum Director Matt McDonnell said: "I did get a phone call from my head of security who said there was an altercation in the parking lot, and a gun was fired.

"However, no one was hit or hurt from the gunshots."

Melanie Chinn of Biloxi said she and her family were just a few yards away when they saw a man who fired a gun.

"It was all in front of us as we were trying to drive out of the parking lot," Chinn said. "It was pretty scary to be that close. There were so many people fighting."

Chinn said the fight involved a large crowd of men and women, some of whom were trying to break it up. It was large enough that it blocked one of the south parking lot exits leading to U.S. 90, she said.

"Hair was flying off, clothes too," Chinn said. "Security showed up but did nothing to stop the brawl that we could see. They were taking pictures and filming it."

At one point, she saw a man run to a pickup truck, rip his shirt off, open the driver's side door and retrieve a silver handgun.

"He turned around and kept his arms pointed towards the ground," she said. "We heard two pops. He ran back toward the Coliseum, and I heard another two pops."

Chinn said she told her family to get down just as the shots rang out.

"Like I said, we were close," she said. "I could tell that man was running to his car for a purpose."

The first few vehicles that were blocked in quickly pushed through the crowd, forcing it to temporarily disperse and move away from the exit. she said.

She described the gunman as a black male of average height and weight, with short hair, a goatee and a mustache. He was wearing jean shorts and had an undershirt on when he took his other shirt off.

She described the man's vehicle as a small black pickup, possibly a Toyota or Nissan. It was a newer model and "well taken care of," she said.

"I just wish this important night could have ended without the violence," Chinn said. "It's turned into idiots going crazy."

Biloxi police and Coliseum security guards were able to break up the fight and clear the parking lot.

Police Lt. Chris De Back said officers responded to an initial call regarding gunshots at the Coliseum but did not find evidence to substantiate the report.

Officers did break up a fight in the parking lot after the graduation ceremony but could not find any shell casings, bullet holes or other evidence confirming a gun was fired, De Back said.

"It's possible, for instance, that someone may have fired shots into the air or something, but as far as we know, it was just a fight," he said.

No arrests were made.

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