By Mike Sherman
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE
KOA manager pulls gun on unregistered campers
May 29, 2019
A KOA campground manager will be seeking new employment. The employee of the KOA park in Starkville, Mississippi, has been fired after a cell phone video showed her holding a handgun while ordering a couple to leave because they did not have a reservation.
The couple said they were told at the front office they did not need a reservation to picnic at Oktibbeha County Lake. After realizing she was being recorded by the phone camera, the manager quit pointing the weapon at the couple and put it in her pocket. (You can continue reading the article here.)
I was in shock! We strive to bring you information each Saturday that can help you with safety and security issues as you RV across America. However, last Saturday’s RVTravel.com article was quite the surprise.
I often ask, “What would you do?” when faced with dangers that are out there. Scenarios are suggested, with what we hope are thought-provoking ideas and comments. They usually generate a lot of feedback: your comments are smart and informative for all the readers to learn from and sometimes enjoy.
This particular incident is new to me. I can’t recall a time when a management employee of a nationwide camping chain was implicated in pulling a gun on guests of the park. I’ve talked with parents who camp only in KOA facilities because they are large, well-staffed and cater to families with several child-friendly amenities. The parents say they feel very safe in a KOA campground. I’m fairly confident guns are not permitted on KOA property, as is the case with most developed campgrounds. For a manager to confront the couple, while actually pointing the gun at them, is just over the top. The manager has been fired, the couple have contacted an attorney, and local law enforcement authorities are conducting a criminal investigation.
Some avoid KOA for a variety of reasons: too large, too noisy, too many kids, packed in like sardines. If you are traveling solo or its just you and your partner, KOA might not be that enjoyable. But if you have kids, need full services including cable TV, a swimming pool, game room, etc., then KOA is for you. Your children will meet other children in the playgrounds and make new friends. KOA serves a niche, and with millennials becoming a major RV market factor, they will experience corporate growth because “if you build it, they will come.”
Back in the ’50s it was a totally different story. We experienced state and federal campgrounds, primitive, and if the family was having all the relatives join in, we would rent several sites. The adults would take up their sites, but the kids were all put together in their own sites. So we kids had our section, and the adults had theirs. It was more fun catching a fish in the nearby stream than “surfing the Internet.” My, how times have changed! It is hard to imagine Smokey Bear pulling a gun on us.
Question: Does KOA corporate have any responsibility in this incident? Should the ex-manager be charged criminally for her actions? Your thoughts would be interesting to those following this incident.
UPDATE: Wednesday, June 5, from Yahoo.com: “Former Kampgrounds of America employee Ruby Howell was arrested on Tuesday for threatening a black couple with a gun, according to the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office in Starkville, Miss. The 70-year-old is reportedly charged with threatening exhibition of a weapon.” According to CNN.com: “She is scheduled to be in court June 25.” Stay tuned.
Note: We know what we discuss in this column may be controversial. While we invite your polite, constructive comments, inflammatory remarks will be immediately deleted.
Mike Sherman is a retired street cop and investigator with 30+ years of RV experience as a traveler, camp host and all-around advocate for the joys of living on the road. His articles are for general discussion purposes only – you should always consult your local authorities or legal counsel for specific answers if necessary. Write him at MikeShermanPI@gmail.com if you have questions, or leave a comment below.
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