Palo Pinto Mountains State Park traces its roots to a bar shooting in Mingus

·2 min read
Rodger Mallison/Star-Telegram archives

Some locals call it “Mule Lip State Park.”

The 4,871 acres of what used to be ranchland will soon be home to Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, but the newest playground for North Texans wouldn’t have come to be were it not for a shooting in December 2008.

Kevin Parsons and Will Copeland were at the Mingus watering hole, the Mule Lip Bar, on Dec. 8, and it was time to close up for the night. The two got in a dispute about leaving the bar, and before long, Copeland was headed out to his pickup to get a 20-gauge shotgun. He went back inside and fired a deadly shot Parsons’ way. The town would become divided over whether the shooting was a murder or deadly accident.

A couple of years later, a court would rule it was a criminally negligent homicide. Copeland was sentenced to two years in prison in January 2010.

The Parsons family filed a wrongful death suit against Copeland, and 1,330 acres of land were granted to the family in a settlement. Copeland died in 2016.

As litigation related to the shooting played out, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials were seeking a new state park in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Land set aside for the project along Eagle Mountain Lake was deemed too small for the venture. (That land would eventually become the Tarrant Regional Water District’s Eagle Mountain Park.)

The $9.2 million from the water district sale was designated for a new state park, and the state would eventually buy the 1,330 acres of ranchland the Parsons family got in the settlement. The Copeland family sold an additional 1,960 acres to the state that were part of a family trust, and another landowner contributed 42 acres. Over the years, more land would be added until nearly 5,000 acres were acquired.

And it all started at the Mule Lip Bar.

This article contains information from Star-Telegram archives.

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