There's a war in the City of Gulfport between city offices and the military. Gulfport law enforcement, military, and government exchanged gun fire Friday. In this case, instead of real ammo, it was a case of friendly fire: a paintball war.
Eric Best, Executive Petty Officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Gulfport, says, "We all work together to serve the community every day. It's nice to come out, have fun together, build relationships." Gulfport fire and police, city employees, government, Seabees, and Coast Guard all opened fire on each other at the Seabee paintball field.
Lieutenant Tim Holliman of the Gulfport Fire Department says, "We're excited. It’s an opportunity for the city to come together and have a little competition, as friendly as it maybe, but we went out for blood and we won!" It was all fun, and there was plenty of smack talk, but make no mistake, this was true competition, and no prisoners were taken. Best also says, "I was the last man standing. I got assaulted. As you can see, I got shot in the head right here. This is not a huge mosquito."
It's not often that you see Mayor Billy Hewes and Gulfport administration in paintball gear, but they say that paintball is a great way to build camaraderie across the agencies. Mayor Hewes says, “It’s just an opportunity for a team building exercise to break the routine and get outdoors and enjoy the springtime.” It was a great chance for employees to shoot at their bosses as the police chief, fire chief, mayor, and other administrative officials were taken down by the city council.
Hewes also says, "We were holding out. I was the last man standing and they bum-rushed me." Ricky Dombrowski of the Gulfport City Council, Ward 2, says, "Two on one, one guy took the right and I took the left. He was looking the wrong way, didn’t even see me coming." Hewes closes, "The fact of the matter is we need a particular vote out of him at the next council meeting so we let him win." This was the first multi-agency paintball war. The city plans to have more fun events in the future to continue to strengthen bonds across agencies.