A photo of a spectator pointing a handgun at a bull that tried to jump into the stands at last Thursday’s edition of That Famous Preston Night Rodeo has generated a stampede of comments online, ranging from praise to criticism to mockery.
The photo was among a series taken by Necia Seamons, editor of The Preston Citizen newspaper, to accompany an article about the bull’s attempt to leap into the crowd. The leap was also captured on videos that got wide circulation over the weekend, including on NBC News.
Although the danger lasted only a second or two before the bull fell off a fence and cable separating the rodeo arena from the bleachers at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, the unidentified spectator seated just a few feet away had time to draw his weapon and point it squarely in the charging animal’s face. A subsequent photo from Seamons shows the cowboy-hat-wearing spectator tracking the bull with his gun as it fell away from the fence. Then, as the bull ran away, the gun was withdrawn.
“Someone you want around in an emergency,” said Nicholle King, one of more than 700 readers to comment on a Herald Journal Facebook post linking to an article about the incident.
“Not really,” shot back commenter Christian Saunders. “I want someone who is aware that it’s gonna take more than that pistol to drop that bull and gets people out of the way to safety instead of trying to draw down on a bull.”
“Why do you think the bull changed his mind and backed off,” offered a third commenter identifying himself as Homer J. Harris and attaching a laughing emoji.
Emojis were in heavy use among the Facebook visitors reacting to the article. As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, just over 24 hours after the story and photo appeared on the Herald Journal’s Facebook page, there were 1,700 thumbs up, 963 laughing faces, 512 wow faces, 61 hearts, 31 angry faces and 22 crying faces.
Another one of the joking posts was accompanied by a screenshot from the locally produced hit movie “Napoleon Dynamite,” showing the scene where iconic Franklin County resident Dale Critchlow (playing Lyle) shoots a cow in the face in front of a school bus full of children.
“Please tell me he’s the son of Lyle from Napoleon Dynomite,” wrote Colby Olsen.
The movie was also referenced by Mandi Buttars, a supporter of the armed spectator, who remarked, “Finally we can forget about Napoleon Dynamite and be famous for another 15 minutes. No one was injured, the gentleman didn’t react and kept his cool. I would sit next to him any day.”
Also among those weighing in was a local firearms trainer, who instead of offering an opinion on the spectator’s action criticized the newspaper for publishing the photo online, saying “Love how the Harold Journal stirs the pot to get people divided.”
Last Thursday’s event was attended by Idaho Gov. Brad Little and attracted what editor Seamons described as one of the largest crowds ever at That Famous Preston Night Rodeo
The bull that stole the show circled around to the west side of the arena after throwing his rider, then without warning ran toward the crowd and tried to jump the fence.
“Shrieking fans parted as the bull balanced momentarily on the fence, and cable above the fence broke, rocking him backwards and back into the arena,” Seamons wrote. “Clowns jumped into action, distracting him from trying to escape again, and he was soon corralled behind the chutes where he belongs. As fans found their way back to their seats, rodeo officials and volunteers found a fence panel, closed the gap and the show went on.”