NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A parent’s video shows children ducking for cover Monday night as gunfire erupted during a youth baseball game in North Charleston.
North Charleston Police say they are actively investigating the shooting. Police spokesman Harve Jacobs said police responded to Pepperhill Park in the 7600 block of Brandywine Road where gunshots had been reported.
A police report released Tuesday states witnesses told responding officers that a “large group” of teenagers pulled into the parking lot and began fist fighting. Witnesses then told officers the teenagers began shooting at each other before they fled in their vehicles where it appeared shots were fired from one vehicle towards another, the report states.
Mayor Keith Summey watched a citizen’s video of the children on the field during this incident, and was “appalled by what he heard and saw,” Jacobs said.
Assistant Chief Greg Gomes is shocked by the video and horrified at the events that took place, he said.
“He vehemently denounces this violence and is outraged at those responsible for putting so many innocent lives in danger,” Jacobs said.
North Charleston Police promised to investigate the incident “to the fullest extent of the law and will do everything in their power to locate and arrest the individuals involved in this heinous and reckless act.”
“We will leave no stone unturned in bringing these suspects to justice,” Jacobs said.
“Witnesses indicated that multiple vehicles pulled into the parking lot, where a physical altercation took place, followed by dozens of gunshots,” Jacobs said. “Several youth baseball games were underway when this incident occurred. This incident tonight had nothing to do with the Park, youth athletes, parents or coaches. Thankfully no injuries were reported.”
Blake Ferguson was recording the game as his son was on the pitching mound at Pepperhill Ball Field. Ferguson’s video captured the sound of multiple shots, sending children and officials running for cover. Ferguson said he heard between 50 to 75 shots and believes the gunfire happened in the parking lot.
The gunfire began at approximately 8:45 p.m., he said.Lori Ferguson said she heard the booms and initially thought someone was setting off fireworks.
“And then all of a sudden, boom, boom, and ‘Get down, everybody, get down!’ And you’re at a park. My kids are not with me directly and you just see everybody scattering,” she said. “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.”
After the shooting ended, Blake Ferguson said multiple parents’ vehicles had been struck by gunfire.
Lori Ferguson said police responded to the park to investigate where the shooting occurred, but said officers did not come onto the ball field to check on the families or escort them off the field.
“But nobody ever came and checked like, ‘Hey, are these kids okay?’” she said.
The incident, she said, left her children shaken, even after they were back home.
“Now, I understand we could walk down the street, something could happen. We could be at church, something can happen. One-hundred percent understand that,” she said. “My kids asked me where the police were to protect them. They didn’t want to take a shower, in our own home, because now they’re traumatized by what happened tonight.”
North Charleston to form ‘safety plan’ for city parks, playgrounds
Police planned to meet Tuesday morning with city recreation staff to formulate a safety plan “to ensure that our city’s youth can feel safe when playing on our parks and playgrounds,” Jacobs said.
“We will also make arrangements for the children, parents, coaches, and volunteers who were affected by this event are provided with the resources necessary to assist them in dealing with such a traumatic incident,” Jacobs said.
He said the police department has spoken with the Dee Norton Children’s Advocacy Center to help provide those services.
Games scheduled at the field for Tuesday will be canceled while these plans are finalized.
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