The Richardsons decided that they wanted to spend Memorial Day weekend outdoors, picnicking, even thinking of renting a cabin. They did an Internet search finding a Kampgrounds of America location by Oktibbeha County Lake in Mississippi and headed there on Sunday with their dog.
The Richardsons said they were told at the front office they did not need a reservation to be at the lake so they began to walk on the campgrounds. Never in their wildest dreams did they think they’d encounter an employee who would pull a weapon on them — but that’s exactly what happened. A white woman is caught on video telling the couple to leave because they didn’t have a reservation, as she holds a gun.
“This lady just literally pulled a gun because we’re out here and didn’t have reservations,” Jessica Richardson says, who recorded the interaction with her cellphone.
Richardson told WCBI that the woman, whose name hasn’t been released, identified herself as the property manager.
“You can feel the intent behind it,” she said of the woman pointing the weapon. “I felt it. I felt the heat from it. I felt it in her eyes. I knew exactly what it was.”
In the video, Richardson tells the woman, wearing a Kampgrounds of America (KOA) T-shirt, that she and her husband didn’t know they needed reservations.
“We didn’t know, lady. The only thing you had to do was tell us,” she says.
The woman tells the Richardsons they have to leave the campsite as they are not allowed on the premises.
“Well I’m just telling you, you need to leave because it’s under private ownership,” she says.
She then puts the gun in her pocket.
“That’s all you had to say,” Richardson responds.
“You can’t be out here,” the woman says.
Watch the video:
Franklin Richardson told WCBI that on the way out, he and his wife spoke to another campground employee outside the office who is the husband of the woman holding the gun.
“I get out and start talking to him,” he said. “The first thing he says is ‘Oh, you don’t need a reservation for the lake.’ Then she pulls up flying, hops out the car, then proceeded to yell at my wife ‘get in the car, you need to get back in the car,’ just cussing her out and she’s not even saying anything.”
Franklin Richardson is an Army National Guard Sergeant who recently returned from a nine-month deployment in the Middle East.
“You go over there and don’t have a gun pointed at you, and you come back home and the first thing that happens is you have a gun pointed at you,” he told the news channel.
KOA said in a statement on Tuesday that the employee has been fired:
“Kampgrounds of America does not condone the use of a firearm in any manner on our properties or those owned and operated by our franchisees. The employee involved in the incident has been relieved of her duties at the Starkville KOA.”
Kampgrounds of America Inc., based in Billings, Montana, has 517 camping locations throughout North America. In March, Oscar Tang, whose family has owned KOA since 1980, named Toby O’Rourke the new chief executive officer of KOA, leading two white males in its executive leadership team. O’Rourke, the first woman CEO at the company, previously served as president.
Tang, a New York City financier, who was a major shareholder at the time, “bought KOA after the 1979 oil crisis had tanked the stock price,” according to the company’s website. Kampgrounds of America Inc. was founded by Dave Drum, John Wallace and two other partners in the early 1960s.