Kampgrounds of America has fired a worker who threatened two visitors to a campsite at the Oktibbeha County Lake, according to a company spokesman.
Mike Gast, vice president of communication for Kampgrounds of America, said the move came after investigating the Sunday incident, a video of which quickly spread across social media.
The video shows a white woman, in a yellow shirt with a Kampgrounds of America logo on it, confronting a black couple walking their dog at the campsite, with what appears to be a revolver in her hand.
The woman holding the camera says during the video that the employee “pulled a gun because we’re out here and don’t have reservations.” She further says they didn’t know a reservation was needed and would have left the site if asked.
The employee, stuffing the gun into her pocket, tells the visitors to leave the site because it’s under “private ownership.”
While KOA has not identified the employee, Gast said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon that she was terminated from her position.
“Unfortunately, the campground employee felt it necessary to display a firearm during the interaction with the two individuals and their dog,” Gast said. “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.”
It’s unclear what triggered the incident shown in the video. Social media users have attributed the confrontation to possible racial motivations.
On Facebook, users have started to “review bomb” — a phenomenon where people leave a large number of negative reviews for a product, business or service in response to an issue — the Starkville KOA site, citing the incident in the video.
It’s also unclear whether the land is under “private ownership,” as the employee claimed in the video. The KOA site at the Oktibbeha County Lake is on land owned by the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District, not Oktibbeha County, as The Dispatch previously reported.
In 2012, former Mississippi State University head basketball coach Rick Stansbury leased the land, in addition to adjacent Oktibbeha County-owned property, at the lake. The land had previously been leased by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
SOCSD Public Information Officer Nicole Thomas said the district doesn’t have a direct lease with KAO, so the campsite land is likely subleased through Stansbury.
Stansbury could not be reached for comment on the incident by press time.
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.