Charge filed against former KOA employee who threatened visitors with gun






Alex Holloway


The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.


A former Kampgrounds of America employee was arrested on Tuesday after a viral video showed her threatening a black couple with a handgun.


Oktibbeha County Sheriff Office Capt. Brett Watson said Ruby Nell Howell, 70, of Starkville, turned herself in Tuesday morning at the Oktibbeha County Jail. Howell is facing a misdemeanor charge of threatening exhibition of a weapon.


A video, which has garnered hundreds of thousands of views and national media attention, shows Howell confronting Jessica and Franklin Richardson on May 26 at the KOA site at the Oktibbeha County Lake. Howell, who is white, tells the Richardsons to leave the campsite while brandishing a revolver, saying the lake is "private property" and that they must have made reservations to be there.



The Richardsons said they did not realize they needed to make a reservation and they would have left if asked.


While it's unclear what triggered the confrontation, social media users suggested possible racial motivations.


KOA announced May 28 Howell had been terminated from her position.


On Thursday, District Attorney Scott Colom and Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney held a press conference about the incident. At the time, they said they were awaiting statements from the Richardsons before pursuing potential charges.


Watson said the Richardsons provided statements on Friday afternoon, and investigators got a warrant from Oktibbeha County Justice Court Judge Larnzy Carpenter on Monday.


"We interviewed both of them on Friday afternoon," Watson said. "We couldn't have gotten the warrant without them interviewing."


Howell is out of jail on $500 bond. She's scheduled to appear in Oktibbeha County Justice Court on June 25.



Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.



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