A Tyler man arrested after officials say he was running a horse race without proper permits is part of a crackdown after five people were shot dead at a trail riding event last month in Smith County .
Renault Kay, 55, was sentenced to Smith County Jail on Saturday for encouraging a mass gathering without a permit and escaping arrest or detention. He was released the following day on bonds totaling $3,500.
Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith told a press conference Monday that Kay, owner of L&K Downs racetrack, was charging admission for an event with more than 130 people. Officials were alerted to the event after receiving a call around 6 p.m. Saturday about reckless driving on CR 3104 near the track.
Upon arrival, the deputies asked a female admissions officer who was in charge of the event. She told them that Kay was the owner, according to Smith.
Shortly after, Kay was heading to the property when deputies told her about the event. He said he was the owner and promoter of the event, but it was to be a ‘small event’ with around 200 people to watch the horse races ‘practice’, said Smith.
The proper permits were not applied for or issued, Smith said.
When authorities attempted to stop the vehicle and arrest Kay, it accelerated, according to Smith.
“Kay was ordered by many officers to stop, when we got to the property we had to chase him down,” Smith County Pct. 4 Constable Josh Joplin said. “For the entire time after it was shut down, people continued to horse race, so there’s no way to hide that they had no unauthorized horse racing or mass gathering. .”
Kay told authorities he didn’t think he needed to have a mass gathering permit, but Smith said Kay had been told “many times” about the specific requirements for this type of event.
“At a press conference on July 1, Fire Marshal (Jay) Brooks, Constable 4 Joplin and I outlined numerous issues regarding the many rides, concerts and horse races in Smith County,” said said Smith. “During this press conference, we were clear about the proper protocol for obtaining permission for a mass gathering. We also covered situations in which a mass gathering permit was not required.
“We even covered the part of the mass gathering laws relating to the size of the crowd when horse racing was present.”
Agencies were discussing safety measures to better regulate similar events after five people were shot while hiking June 25 in Smith County. Smith said authorities are still investigating the matter and have identified potential suspects connected to the shooting.
“We have bigger and better things to deal with in this county with homicides, burglaries and robberies,” Smith said. “It is simply unconscionable that we have to mess up our staff with events like this.”