Fairgoers Not In Danger After Fair Stabbing

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

Rockingham County Sheriff's Office reported a stabbing in a parking lot in the Rockingham County Fair at 11 p.m. on Friday.

Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said after the demolition derby and all the events concluded, Franklin Comer Senior of Shenandoah allegedly stabbed Brian Purdham with a pocket knife.

Purdham, from Shenandoah, was sent to University of Virginia hospital with serious injuries. His condition is now stable, according to Hutcheson.

Hutcheson said Comer Senior is at the Rockingham county jail with a charge of malicious wounding.

Hutcheson said the safety of fairgoers is not at stake.

"There's really no cause of alarm with this. it's really a boiling over of a prior disagreement of two folks that knew each other very well," he said.

He said this happened in the parking lot furthest from the fair. The one behind the grand stand, where the derby takes place.

Rockingham County Fair President Michael Gochenour said this is the first time someone has used a weapon in fairgrounds.

"We've had isolated incidents in the past of stuff breaking out but not that we know of anything like this happened," Gochenour said.

Bonnie Miller who is attending the fair said she doesn't understand this type of behavior.

"Well i think it's terrible and I don't know anybody that would have to carry a knife to come to the fair," she said.

Miller said incidents like this can ruin the experience of fairgoers.

"If they got disagreements stay home. It's just not fun for anybody else to have to put up, to hear that or see it," Miller said.

The woman from Shenandoah county said increasing security would be a good strategy to prevent incidents like this.

"It might be good to put a gate that you walk through and detects metal," she said.

Right now, Gochenour said there is no checks at the gate for weapons. He said they rely on the help of police to keep people safe.

Hutcheson said officers responded immediately when they were notified of the incident. He said there is no need to increase security.

"I don't think there's any need for any security measures because again this is in the back parking lot where people had access to their vehicles," he said. "So it wasn't a matter of something that someone had on their person but they could've had it in their vehicle."

He also said it would be hard to ban pocket knifes at the fair.

"A simple thing like a knife. Here in a rural county like Rockingham county about anyone is gonna have a pocket knife. People have enough sense to not use it on another person," Hutcheson said.


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