Changes to come for large events in Fargo after shooter’s plans for mass casualty event are revealed

Moving forward with large events in the wake of a potential mass casualty.
Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 6:19 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -

All of this is something many say is hard to believe could happen in our community and people are reasonably on edge. It’s clear to investigators that the shooter was planning a deadly attack on a large event happening that day.

“This individual, was a calculated, insidious, murderous individual, who was set on hurting and killing as many as people as possible,” says Fargo Police Chief Dave Zibolski.

Now people are wondering how they can feel safe and what major events will look like moving forward.

I asked the Executive Director of West Fargo Events, Mike Amundson, about their plans if an active shooter were to be present at an event held at the Essentia Health Plaza located at The Lights in West Fargo.

He said, “Yes, there are plans in place for that, I won’t be able to share those details with you, law enforcement is prepared, as are our staff, for this weekend in particular we did up our security staff and personnel around the venue.”

He says people can feel safe attending events at the Essentia Health Plaza. However, these are the kinds of situations people managing events now have to think about.

“It’s very emotional I guess, I think you just think about that could have been anybody,” says VP of Communications at Epic Events, McKenzy Braaten.

The team that plans concerts and events at The Lights have been very thorough in their security measures, from the design of the venue, to the implementation of security cameras, and prohibiting specific items. They also hold safety meetings the night before each event.

“You see anything say something, that’s kind of our big motto, so see something, say something,” explains Braaten.

Law enforcement say they are evaluating special events to see what safety measures can be added to public events in the future.

While the day-to-day visitation rate isn’t tracked, we know that the street fair brings in about 100,000 people over the course of three days.

“As a country we have learned you can’t necessarily insulate yourself against some heinous violence like this. I’ll tell you when it comes to the street fair, DCP has meeting with FPD, every month. Before any events, they have a pre-event meeting with FPD. There’s a lot of police presence. We have private security hired. We have volunteers. When it comes to safety & security, the DCP takes safety very seriously. We make all sorts of accommodations to make sure we can provide a very fun, safe and secure event,” says Downtown Community Partnership Board Member Tami Norgard.

“To make sure that we’re doing everything we can to prevent harm to our community, allowing you to go out an enjoy our beautiful city, entertainment, spend time with your family without the fear of that type of activity occurring,” says Chief Zibolski.

Hairball is performing tonight at The Lights in West Fargo and event coordinators say there will be an option tonight and tomorrow to make a donation to those affected by the shooter.