By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Local education and law enforcement officials won’t say exactly what prompted a request for a strong law enforcement presence at the Escambia County High-Vigor High football game last Friday, Oct. 1, but there certainly was one.
Citing a cryptic need for stringent security measures, at the request of Mobile County School System officials, the game’s kickoff was moved up three hours and the contest was played under the watchful eyes of a phalanx of Atmore police officers, Escambia County sheriff’s deputies, Poarch tribal police officers and Alabama State Troopers.
Director of Career and Technical Education Shawn Butler, who also serves as athletic director for the Escambia County School System, said in a statement issued on behalf of Superintendent of Education Michele McClung that the extra precautions were taken in order to ensure the safety of visiting players, coaches and fans, as well as ECHS players, coaches and fans.
“The game was moved up three hours in order to accommodate having a greater law enforcement presence due to concerns voiced from the other system,” Butler’s statement read. “Escambia County takes the safety of both schools’ students, as well as both communities’ parents and spectators, seriously. Acting on the advice of the LEA (law enforcement agency) stakeholders, the superintendent made the determination that a 4 p.m. game and increased LEA presence were in everyone’s best interest.”
Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks echoed those sentiments, pointing out that the entire plan went off without a hitch.
“Because of security concerns for players and fans from both sides, our officers were there, along with troopers from Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, deputies from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and officers from Poarch Police,” he said. “The game was moved up so it would be over before night, and every detail, every aspect of the security plan was flawless.”
Brooks would not comment on the possibility that the threat or threats were related to the September 11 shooting death in Prichard (home of Vigor High) of a 25-year-old Atmore man, La’Craig Brown, because he wasn’t sure they were.
“The concern was over third-party threats, from Mobile County,” he said. “Our department did not have any information that there was any credible threat (from Atmore).”
Brown, a father of four who sold “high-end” shoes, was shot in the parking lot of Fry Daddy’s, a popular Prichard fast food restaurant, in what police believe was a robbery attempt. He was taken to University Hospital, where he later died. His killer has not yet been apprehended or identified.
A news release issued by Prichard police promised that investigators were diligently working on changing that.
“While there is no clear motive and no suspects at this time, detectives are actively working this case and are asking anyone with information about this incident, to please contact the Prichard Police Department or Major Crimes Division at 251-452-2211,” read the brief release.
And the game? The visiting Wolves, who entered the contest as the state’s third-ranked Class 4A team, notched their sixth victory without a loss, a 46-0 decision over the Blue Devils.