MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A man was taken to the hospital Saturday at the Southern Heritage Classic after accidentally shooting himself in the stomach, witnesses said.

WREG spoke to MPD Assistant Chief of Police Don Crowe, who confirmed the shooting occurred in the parking lot of the Liberty Bowl. Investigators believe this was an accidental shooting.

Chief Crowe stressed there is no suspect and the public does not need to be concerned at this time.

The man was taken to the hospital in critical condition. It is unclear how the firearm was discharged in this instance.

More than 51,000 people packed the Liberty Bowl and fairgrounds for the 33rd annual Southern Heritage Classic. The Classic comes at a time when Memphis is dealing with a stretch of violence that left a jogger murdered and six people shot during a shooting spree this week.

“My anxiety was on 100,” said attendee Cynetria Newbern. “I was like ‘I’m not going’, but after this week and you calm down and realize that we are still who we are, Memphis, and we all stick together.”

In an effort to address security concerns, organizers implemented a clear bag policy and claimed to screen attendees. 

Despite the measures put in place inside of the Liberty Bowl, it did not stop a shooting from occurring in the parking lot.

While investigators are describing it as an isolated incident, it’s alarming to attendees, given the timing.

“It’s unfortunate that there is crime here in Memphis, but that’s a nationwide epidemic and it ain’t just in Memphis,” said Bryant Hobbs. “I always continue to pray and hopefully the crime will subside in Memphis.”

With this possibly being the last Southern Heritage Classic between Tennessee State University and Jackson State University, many are remaining optimistic about the game’s future.

“I hope and pray that Tennessee State and Memphis can bring another team and keep it going. It should not stop with Jackson State,” Hobbs said.

Even amid the uncertainty with this game and crime, many believe this is a tradition worth fighting for.

Outside of the accidental shooting, there were no reports of any major incidents at the Liberty Bowl.