On Friday night, a high school football field had to be evacuated by deputies from the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office after two men were wounded in a shooting during a preseason game in Wellington. The incident occurred during the fourth quarter of a practice game between students of Palm Beach Central and William T Dwyer High School from Palm Beach Gardens. The match was taking place at Palm Beach Central High School.
A spokesperson for the police department tweeted that after responding to the school at 8499 Forest Hill Blvd, deputies determined in it was not an active-shooter situation. One among the injured was airlifted by fire rescue personnel while the other was rushed to a nearby hospital by a friend.
Teri Barbera, a spokeswoman for Palm Beach County Sheriff informed that the two victims who were shot were not students in the Palm Beach County school system.
"My thoughts are with the victims of the shooting ... This shouldn't be the image of high school in America -- of life in America," Rep. Ted Deutch wrote on Twitter. "We must take action to strengthen our gun laws."
Palm Beach students had returned to school on August 13 and this was the first Friday night since they resumed.
Witnesses heard several shots fired and chaos ensued in the field, according to a tweet by Palm Beach Post reporter Ryan DiPentima, who was covering the football game when this happened.
"People just scrambled again, This time in the other direction. Young child in the press box just said, 'I hope I don't die.' Another said, 'This happens daily.' Unbelievable," DiPentima wrote after the game was canceled.
That said, there were several young children in the crowd at the time of the shooting, according to videos published on social media by witnesses. Parents who were waiting to pick their children up were directed by the Palm Beach County School District to head towards the school's bus loop.
Kathy Burstein, the school district's spokesperson, wrote in a statement at the time, "There are plenty of law enforcement on site. Students are safe and awaiting pickup."
Robin Shecter, who was returning to pick up her kids at the end of the game, spoke to The Palm Beach Post.
She said she gave a call to her children and asked them to walk out, when "all of a sudden two guys broke out in a fight." According to her, one of them pulled out a gun "and started shooting and I, I mean, I was in a trance. I couldn't believe it. And one of them, somebody, hit my car. Then I saw what was going on. They said, 'It's a shooter!' I got out of my car, ran all over by the bleachers, looking for the kids."
"It was just a normal Friday night game and everybody's playing, everybody's having a good time," Ivan Najera, a junior kicker for Central, told The Palm Beach Post. "And then out of nowhere, four shots went off by the bus loop area, and kids start running everywhere. Kids from the bleachers were running everywhere and no one knew what to do. It's crazy.”
“The game was going on and I was just paying attention and then, you know how fireworks are, I turned around and I thought it was a firework,” Central running back Derrick Cruickshank said. “You hear a few more shots and then things got real and I turned one more time to see everyone in the stands running.”
“We were just playing the game, the game of football that everybody loves, but sadly we didn’t get to see the game end,” he said. “It just came down to the wrong time and wrong place.”
The Palm Beach County Schools Police Department asked the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office detectives with the violent crimes division to take over the investigation of the shooting, spokeswoman Barbera said. However, the shooter is yet to be identified.
Students of Broward County had resumed school on Wednesday, and are now scheduled to get back in class on Monday.
Any further information should be passed on to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS.