KOA manager arrested after pulling gun on picnicking couple

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UPDATED JUNE 6, 2019

The KOA campground manager in Starkville, Mississippi, who was fired after a cell phone video showed her holding a handgun while ordering a couple to leave because they did not have a reservation, has been arrested.

Oktibbeha County Sheriff Office Capt. Brett Watson said Ruby Nell Howell, 70, of Starkville, turned herself in Tuesday morning at the Oktibbeha County Jail. She faces a misdemeanor charge of threatening exhibition of a weapon. She’s scheduled to appear in Oktibbeha County Justice Court on June 25.

The incident occurred May 26 when Howell, holding a revolver, told Jessica and Franklin Richardson they were trespassing, which the picnicking couple said they did not know. After realizing she was being recorded by the phone camera, she quit pointing the weapon at the couple and put it in her pocket.

See the video below.


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Eddie

Well, the gun was over the top, but can’t we get back to a time when the race card stays in the deck? No trespassing signs should have been the first clue. And the fact that KOA is obviously a pay to stay business should have been #2. ANYBODY who does what they did should be called out on it. However, even as a proud proponent of the 2nd Amendment and the owner of MANY guns, that was uncalled for. A gun is not a toy. And more importantly, should NEVER be aimed at anybody unless your life is in… Read more »

Bob p

They apparently were not campground guest but instead decided to use KOAs facility, the manager was wrong in the use of the gun but, the black couple were wrong in thinking they could go into the KOA and use their facilities. I am not a fan of KOA due to their pricing practices and management ideas, as their practice to charge for a paying patron to have their great grandchildren visit for a few hours, however this is blatantly an attempt to violate KOAs private property rights and show them that blacks don’t have to follow rules. Just the fact… Read more »

Chas

In an article I read the people said that they had checked with someone at KOA and were told that they only needed reservations for cabins and rv area.

Michael Harris

Let me ask you Bob, how many times in your life have you driven through a campground to check the facilities out before booking and someone pulled a gun on you? My guess is none.

Wolfe

Those are separate questions… i have NEVER driven through a campground to check it out without permission, because that would be called trespassing.

I have NEVER attempted to use the facilities without being a paying guest, because that is that of services and trespassing.

So, THAT is why no one has pointed a gun at me while camping.

Do you just walk onto a golf course you’re not a member of and start teeing off whenever you feel like? I don’t assume everything is free…

Gary Byler

I have been a campground/day use area host since 2009 at numerous areas, I have never considered drawing a firearm on anyone. Every facility charged a fee for usage. I am one who believes it was racially motivated. Ask respectfully if they have paid, if not remind them it is a fee for usage area. Never have I ever felt the need for threatening anyone one.

Wolfe

I play devils advocate to allow for misunderstandings, but I suspect I’ll agree with you when we know more. I don’t consider the sidearm *as shown* a threat, but it is still poor judgment in current fearful society. Your cooler handling as host is obviously right until there’s a threat. Carry, don’t brandish.

I’d love to know what the lady *thought* warranted holding a sidearm, if not just ignorance – as demonstrated here, if it was just that, it makes onlookers assume all CCW are equally bumpkins.

BikerBro

Too much speculation and not enough facts to actually draw an informed conclusion. However the lady should not have had the weapon out. It should have been concealed (IMHO). Claims of racism, gun hatred, gun lovers etc. just get in the way of actually getting to the truth of the matter. We do not have enough facts because the “news reporter” did not provide an adequate amount of balanced information for us to draw decisions for ourselves; which seems typical in the news coverage of this era.

Pat OConnor

Bob p: Clearly you did not read anything about the incident. The land is leased, private property rights may not be in play here. However, abuse of the weapon was at issue, and the woman was not only fired (along with her husband), but has been charged for being at fault in the incident. And for anyone else who feels compelled to defend the actions of the gun holder, shame on you. This was not 3AM at a gas station. This was in the middle of the day, at a facility that was not clearly marked (as are many lakeside… Read more »

RW

Would it have been different if they were white, presumably all white people follow the rules and none of them think rules and privacy don’t apply to them.

Captn John

I carry everywhere and no one ever knows. I don’t fault her for having it but it should not have been seen

Lisa Cantrell

You can deny racism all you want but I would bet that were the couple people like my husband and me: white, in our 60s, we would not have seen the gun pointed anywhere, been spoken to kindly with respect and possibly even allowed to picnic anyway. As for the idea that a gun is needed for most of the situations cited by Wolfe, I both pity and fear the people who go through life with those fears. I have lived in dangerous areas, traveled and hiked extensively, and worked in a number of areas with high crime and have… Read more »

Anthony Catania

Their dog is a pit bull. Was the dog there? There is more to this story. Better judgement could have been used on both sides. In the video, a private property sign is posted. Why brand this a racial incident when it may not be? I would like to hear from others who were working there that day. The manager could have remained in the truck to communicate if she felt threatened, then called police if necessary. The small details are important here. A person’s resume doesn’t mean they are right all the time. What kinds of problems are common… Read more »

Dan Moore

Lisa, what precautions and use of common sense might save you from, say, a drunk driver causing an accident with you? The idea here is that not all bad situations can nor will be avoided. What you have expressed is that you have had exceptionally good luck while taking precautions and using common sense. Suppose you are getting out of your car to pump gas and the deranged man hidden behind the pumps lunges at you to car jack your car with a gun in his hand and intends to take you hostage as well. There is no amount of… Read more »

Leslie Olsen

Carrying a firearm in that scenario (ambushed at gas station) would probably not save you. Officer David Mobilio, Red Bluff, was murdered under that same scenario, (filling patrol car at 3 a.m., alone) and he was armed and had the benefit of training and quarterly range familiarization and qualification. Gas stations in good neighborhoods, during daylight hours, with numerous people about are much safer than deserted areas, or night times. If someone leaps out at you from behind a pump, ambushing you, you will not have time to respond. Also, statistically, many people are killed with their own weapons. According… Read more »

Wolfe

Leslie: 8% of of armed cops who rarely lose still may lose despite being armed… OK? What does that have to do with NONcops, who may be armed or UNarmed, and still generally don’t lose? Anyone COULD lose, sure… so just don’t do anything? I miss your point?

On average, there are 500ish firearm- involved homicides and 2 million defensive firearm uses each year. One could claim its overwhelmingly better to be able to defend yourself.

Leslie Olsen

Actually, I was responding to Dan Moore’s comment about that scenario (armed assailant hidden behind gas pump). I have had many years of firearms training and possession, and think it adds to my safety, but realize it wouldn’t protect me in every situation (if ambushed, if outgunned, if I run out of bullets, etc.)

Wolfe

Yep… just as I said, absolutely anyone can still lose regardless of their preparation, but just like having a fire extinguisher you hope you’ll never have to use, you are less fearful and more relaxed knowing you can handle what would be reasonable to handle with the proper tools. People often think CCW are more fearful, but we are more relaxed knowing we are prepared.

Marc M

Blah, Blah.. racism… blah blah.. racism.. blah blah… the only racists today are the ones screaming racism.

AA4TG

I think that what she did was too much for this situation and may have been racialy motivated and I’m truly glad that nothing has ever happened to you or your family. As a retired law enforcement officer, i can assure you that the amount of violent crime is a scary comment on todays society. Too many people think that no one, including the police, can tell them anything or even glance there way, and that if you do they must respond to the insult with violence. I never try to convince anyone to carry a weapon but I will… Read more »

Dave

This couple needs an attorney. Bringing a gun to discuss a picnic is intolerable.

RV Staff

We’ll have an update on this in the newsletter Saturday, Dave. Mike Sherman has written about it for his RVer Safety feature. —Diane at RVtravel.com

Wolfe

I disagree. Brandishing without a reason would be intolerable; bringing a gun to a picnic is perfectly wise in many locales. Bears are drawn to picnics; snakes slither into picnics; drunks and lunatics don’t announce their intentions with very good notice. I could say that putting a fire extinguisher into your RV is recklessly irresponsible since you’re PLANNING to have a fire, right? The presence of safety gear is FAR from the bad intention. If I DID intentionally light a fire so I could use my extinguisher, or if I club someone over the head with my fire extinguisher, that’s… Read more »

RV Staff

But Dave said, “Bringing a gun to discuss a picnic …” — not “bringing a gun to a picnic…”. Not quite the same. But you made some good points, Wolfe. —Diane at RVtravel.com

Wolfe

I think it was an overreaction on both sides based on what we know, and realize i’m unusually acclimated for reacting to open carry as “why tweak folks by not concealing?” instead of “why carry?” Keeping it holstered would be better practice, but her finger and muzzle direction read less threatening to someone experienced (as the veteran hubby would be?)

Some states don’t allow concealment, so the implied threat may be unintentional. Having a tool does not itself indicate bad intentions. Nope, still don’t know enough of the situation.

RV Staff

Agreed, Wolfe. It will be interesting to see what the investigation reveals, if anything. —Diane at RVtravel.com

Marc M

I bring a gun everywhere… it’s not only tolerable, it’s my inherent right.

Sink Jaxon

So who’s creating division in America? CBS of course!

Ndsallen

Why can’t the whole story be told instead of just a little snidbit if the situation?

RV Staff

Thanks for the comment, Ndsallen. Here’s an update from WTVA.com from Thursday (most recent I could find) indicating that local law enforcement is investigating the incident. https://www.wtva.com/content/news/kampground-press-conference-510635851.html
BTW — I love “snidbit” — whether it was intentional or otherwise (Spellchecker). I’ve only heard of “snippet,” but now that sounds so “boring”. 😀 — Diane at RVtravel.com

LionRampant

Snidbit = snippet + tidbit. 😉

RV Staff

Love it! Thanks! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

walt

I walked night patrol and New Orleans at a campground and never felt the need to pull a gun. Also, find it unnecessary for the CBS news to headline A WHITE CAMPGROUND MANAGER. Seems a manager would be sufficient.

Chuck

It’s people like her who give gun owners a bad name. Sad to say but some people should be prohibited from owning guns. Her not pointing it at them doesn’t matter; she had it in her hand ready to use against.

I say this and I am very pro second amendment.

Wolfe

Disagree. IDEALLY, I’d like to see it stay in a holster unless needed, but (in the video provided, which MAY not be the whole story), the woman is CLEARLY pointing at the ground (non-threatening) and keeping her finger straight along the slide (non-firing position). She’s doing her job checking on what she believes to be tresspassers, doesn’t call them any racial slurs, and asks them to leave in southern dialect. I’m not seeing a threat or racism in what we actually see or hear. If she was holding a mattock, shovel, rope, whip, tomahawk, axe, machete, or any other ODD… Read more »

Bill Bateman

Disagree … if I walk up to you holding a gun in my hand as you described this woman and speaking to you in the tone and body language the video shows, I don’t think you could truthfully say you did not feel threatened.
There is undoubtably more to the story but we are all discussing what was … not what might have been.

Wolfe

This is my 15th answer IN this thread, so I’ll stop going for the bait sometime… but short answer, “No.” I am acclimated to lots of guns around, and don’t read them as a threat until they are pointed AT me, or handled carelessly. In this case, we don’t SEE the first (I know it was claimed, but not on video). She’s not handling it carelessly here either (although, “get a holster, woman!”). AS someone trained, her care to NOT touch the trigger and aim at the ground suggests she is less of a threat. Hopefully she called police too,… Read more »

Ray

KOA did the right thing and fired her. Actually they should press charges against her.

Marc M

What legal standing would KOA have to press charges?

Wolfe

Zero legal standing for the brandishing itself. IF MS is employment at will, they can fire her. If she acts in good faith as their security, and was not SPECIFICALLY banned from carry, she can sue KOA for wrongful termination. KOA then sues her for bad publicly and lost bookings. Everybody loses except the lawyers.

Glenn

This says a lot about KOA also.

marty chambers

White Nationalist perhaps? If I saw that woman with a gun in her hand I would have gone the other way. And where in the hell did she expect to stuff that hogleg in those knickers?

Marc M

You need a doctor or something? White nationalism… snowflake.

Friz

Offensive lead in to the clip – “White” campground manager….. This race baiting is shameful. Were the picnickers black? Dem white people is da bebil! After reading “White campground manager” I knew what to expect and read no further. If the picnickers were not black then this is sensationalist (fake) journalism at best. Not worth giving CBSN the publicity.

marty chambers

So because you were offended that they identified the woman as white you did not want to know anything more? Wow, you’re special.

George

Yes, Friz is special …. unlike some, he doesn’t see life through the prism of racism.

Kris

Join the discussion…That KOA employee created a dangerous situation towards an unarmed couple. Brandishing that gun was unnecessary. They should sue her out of her house for Mental Pain/Anguish, and for any other applicable charges.

Cooper

Why bring a gun to begin with?
Just confirms to me the Americans love affair with their guns. Take minute to Remember the folks who died in Las Vegas, the children in Sand Hook,Stoneman Douglas High School shooting…not one of America’s finest moments. Remember the shooting in New Zealand and the positive actions the New Zealand government took.
Your friendly neighbour north of the 49 th.

19KC69

Remember the older lady who was about to be attacked in her own house and saved her own life because she owned and knew how to use a gun?
Your friendly American gun owner.

Wolfe

EVERY life is valuable. 2 million lives are documented as being saved by an armed defender each year, and most experts estimate at least 8 million lives saved without report (usually by will-if-must displays). I value those innocent lives. Yes, America DOES have a problem with declaring everyone equal no matter how insane. We DO disarm good people and release criminals from courts. My Canadian friend, PLEASE look at what is common in all the situations you mentioned: a public venue, and three schools where adequate defense was guaranteed to be disabled. We have school attacks BECAUSE we arm crazies… Read more »

Bruce Kidd

They don’t get it. A gun has one purpose: KILL or THREATEN TO KILL ! That’s the way NRA wants Americans to live. Still in the ” OK corral ” era.

Wolfe

Well, that’s peculiar… examining this purpose in the units of “gun-day-killings”, I’ve literally PERSONALLY had 2,000,000ish gun-days with ZERO killings. Are all my sidearms defective, because in all those hundreds of hardware and 10s of thousands of days, all they have done is make UNCOUNTABLE numbers of little paper holes. Since the ONLY purpose of guns is kill-kill-kill, how do i file warranty claims for the many-millions of times my gun failed its purpose???

Bob

Yes Friz they were black and they kept saying she was pointing the gun at them.. Clearly in the video the gun was at her side pointed at the ground the whole time. Typical sensationalist reporting, the article also says they got permission to be there, the video says they didn’t talk to anyone until they were leaving. Again, get your facts straight. I’m not saying the woman was right, the gun should have been concealed until it was determined if it was really going to be needed, but typical sensationalist reporting from people who know nothing about guns and… Read more »

Cooper

But why bring a gun to begin with? Please explain.
From your friendly neighbour north of the 49 th.

Darrel

Brandishing a firearm is ILLEGAL nearly everywhere. She should have been charged and tried.

Wolfe

Thanks, Bob. Pretty “10-X” on there.

Dr.C

The couple was African American and the husband is a Veteran.