A Monday night youth baseball game in North Charleston, S.C., abruptly ended after dozens of gunshots erupted from a parking lot near the baseball field, sending children and parents scrambling. Less than 24 hours after the incident, a community is left reeling from a traumatic situation that could have turned deadly.
“It’s a surprise to us,” North Charleston Deputy Chief of Police Ken Hagge told Yahoo News, noting that there had been just one burglary reported in that community in the last 30 days. “My kids play baseball at that park. I’ve spent hundreds of hours with my kids. It’s always a shock.”
Video of the incident, which has gone viral on social media, shows players and coaches on the field pausing to make sense of the loud noises, then beginning to run. Others dropped to the ground. According to a police report released Tuesday and obtained by Yahoo News, witnesses say they observed a large group of teens pull into the parking lot near Pepperhill Park before a physical altercation ensued. Minutes later, guns were drawn and the teens began to shoot at each other before fleeing in their own vehicles.
BREAKING: Dozens of gunshots send children scrambling for cover during little league baseball game in N. Charleston
Credit: Blake Ferguson#chsnews #scnews pic.twitter.com/vvzfQ4oe2I
— ABC News 4 (@ABCNews4) April 26, 2022
Several vehicles in the parking lot were left with bullet holes in them, but no other injuries were reported.
In a Tuesday press conference, North Charleston police promised to investigate the incident “to the fullest extent of the law.” They had already recovered three firearms at the scene and planned to increase law enforcement’s presence at athletic facilities around the city.
“We will leave no stone unturned in bringing these suspects to justice,” police spokesman Harve Jacobs said.
Mayor Keith Summey saw video of the incident and was “appalled by what he heard and saw,” according to police. On Tuesday, Summey announced that he is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those involved in the shooting.
Blake Ferguson, one of the parents at the game, was recording his son on the pitcher’s mound when the flurry of gunfire broke out, according to Live 5 News. He recalled hearing 50 to 75 gunshots. Ferguson’s wife, Lori, initially thought the loud bangs were fireworks, until she realized they were something more serious.
“You just see everybody scattering,” she told the local station. “And my son’s on the pitcher mound by himself, and it was just the most traumatic thing as a mother, as a citizen of this city, that you just feel helpless. I felt completely helpless.”
Police say they plan to release flyers of the vehicles they believe are involved in the incident within 24 hours. Treatment for trauma is being made available for the children involved.
Hagge believes that, after two years with COVID and limited opportunity for sports, children deserve real support.
“This is something that plays out in neighborhoods all across America,” he said. “If we don’t start getting kids the help they need, we’re in some trouble.”
Cover thumbnail photo: via Twitter