A-Day crowd leads to Strip and Joyride closure, online rumors

Cars+drive+along+University+Boulevard%2C+the+main+road+for+the+University+of+Alabama.+%2F+CW+File+

Cars drive along University Boulevard, the main road for the University of Alabama. / CW File

Ethan Henry , News Editor

A series of rumors circulated on social media, including a video from a 2021 shooting in Tuscaloosa that many believed to be current, following the 2023 A-Day Game on April 22. However, no shooting took place on the Strip that night, contrary to student speculation. 

The online speculation was sparked by the large crowds attending the spring game and bar closures that same night. 

“Y’all be safe. There was shooting down on the strip,” said one Yik Yak post that received 51 upvotes; another, which received 190 upvotes, mentioned the act of “shooting people on campus.” Neither post provided details and neither alleged shooting took place on Saturday night. 

Chris Coleman, general manager of the bar Unique, said that the venue closed early due to safety concerns over the large crowd blocking the entrance to the bar. Other venues, such as Hoppers Corner Bar, never opened that night. Twelve25 closed around 1 a.m. due to what assistant general manager Gerald Jenkins described as a business decision rather than a decision made due to safety concerns. 

Although several bars closed early that night, other establishments, such as Rita’s Italian Ice, closed at their normal time. Bill Getchell, the owner of Rita’s, said that he didn’t experience any problems and that it was “business as usual.” Jocelyn Goree, the general manager for the Jersey Mike’s located on the Strip, shared the same sentiment. 

“According to our numbers, everything was normal,” Goree said. 

Officers from the Tuscaloosa Police Department came into contact with several people who were armed with loaded weapons. According to Stephanie Taylor, a media representative for the Tuscaloosa Police Department, almost all of the people that officers encountered on Saturday night were not from Tuscaloosa. The people officers encountered were from other parts of Alabama. 

Several students also came into contact with people who were armed. 

Michael Brown, a senior studying accounting and the supervisor for Joyride Tuscaloosa on Saturday night, said that he had to call his drivers in for the night because of multiple dangerous incidents, including two situations where drivers were threatened with guns. 

“Around 10 p.m., I decided to call everyone in and close for the night,” Brown said. “As the drivers were making their way back to our garage, one of our drivers was waiting at a red light, when a man pulled a gun on her and began to taunt her.” 

Because Joyride drivers are contractors, every student who was scheduled to drive for Joyride on Saturday night lost income due to the early closure. 

“It really sucks, but driver safety is our No. 1 priority,” Brown said. 

Alexis Castellar, a senior studying public health, was at Unique that night. She said that the Strip was very crowded following the A-Day game. 

“Everyone was just on the Strip, and then I noticed that there was a lot of cops,” Castellar said. 

Castellar also heard rumors via word of mouth about a shooting on the Strip. 

“I heard that it was a shooting at Rounders, and that’s what I got told, so that’s what I thought,” Castellar said. “I was at Unique, so it’s kind of close to Rounders, so I was like, ‘Let’s get out of here.’ But that wasn’t the case at all.” 

According to Taylor, the police declared the area to be overcrowded shortly after 9 p.m. Officers began telling people to move along unless they were going to a specific business. 

Taylor said that at one point in the night, Twelve25 staff were warned that they would be cited for a queuing violation unless they got patrons standing in line to comply with the queuing ordinance. Taylor said there were “no problems inside the businesses as far as overcrowding or anything else.” 

Tyler Cox, a senior majoring in Aerospace Engineering and a security employee at Houndstooth Tuscaloosa, said that although the Strip was crowded, Houndstooth operated as it would on any other fairly busy Saturday. 

“I think as far as Houndstooth was concerned, it was a pretty tame A-Day,” Cox said. “I know in years past, there’s been lots of fights going on, lots of people getting kicked out and stuff like that, but it didn’t seem too bad at Houndstooth.” 

In addition to helping the Tuscaloosa Police Department suspend vehicle traffic on the Strip, officers from the University of Alabama Police Department shut down social events on campus Saturday night. 

“UAPD assisted event security in closing two fraternity events to maintain compliance with social event guidelines. UAPD had extra officers in that area for overall safety and security,” Shane Dorrill, assistant director of communications for the University, said.