Mississippi campground worker fired for pulling gun on black couple arrested
OKTIBBEHA COUNTY, Miss. — An ex-employee of a Mississippi campground, fired last month after pulling a gun on a black couple, was arrested Tuesday, the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office said.
Ruby Nell Howell, 70, of Starkville is charged with threatening exhibition of a weapon, according to a news release.
Howell turned herself in Tuesday morning and was released on a $500 bond, the sheriff’s office said.
She is scheduled to be in court June 25.
Video of the confrontation showed Howell on May 26 approaching Franklin and Jessica Richardson, along with their dog, as the couple sought a picnic spot and possible cabin on Oktibbeha County Lake near Starkville.
Wearing a shirt bearing the logo of Kampgrounds of America, which runs the site, Howell is seen in the video holding a handgun by her side. Jessica Richardson says Howell asked them to leave because they didn’t have a reservation.
“This lady literally just pulled a gun because we out here and didn’t have reservations for a lake we didn’t even know we had to have reservations for,” she says in the video, which was shared widely on social media.
“That’s what the office is for up there, ma’am,” Howell responds.
“We didn’t know, ma’am,” Franklin Richardson tells her.
Adds his wife, “We didn’t know. The only thing you had to do was tell us to leave. We would have left. You did not have to pull a gun.”
Howell puts the gun in her shorts pocket, telling the couple, “Well, I’m just telling you you need to leave because it’s under private ownership. Y’all just can’t be out here.”
Days after the video went viral, Kampgrounds of America said it does not condone the use of firearms on its properties.
“The incident involved a campground employee and two persons seeking to access a lake via the campground’s private property. Unfortunately, the campground employee felt it necessary to display a firearm during the interaction with the two individuals and their dog,” it said, explaining that the employee had been fired.
Kampgrounds of America describes itself as the world’s largest system of “open-to-the-public campgrounds.” It operates more than 500 sites in the United States and Canada.
Threatening exhibition of weapons is punishable by up to three months in prison and a maximum fine of $500.