By LARRY VAUGHT
As I was watching the WLEX-TV High School Sports Zone Friday night I saw the highlights where briefly it seemed like there was a shooting incident at the Frederick Douglas-Bryan Station football game at Frederick Douglas. The incident became national news.
Fans can be seen running from the stands and players on both teams were laying on their stomachs on the field.
One of those players was Frederick Douglas junior offensive lineman Jager Burton, one of the state’s top players with scholarship offers from some of the nation’s top programs. Another was offensive lineman Walker Parks, a Clemson commit.
Frederick Douglas offensive line coach Nathan McPeek said he “kind of knew” it really was not a shooting from information that was conveyed to him and other coaches via their headsets.
“It was just somebody yelling or fireworks,” McPeek said Saturday. “I really don’t know all the details but I knew pretty well that it was not a shooting. Myself, I never felt unsafe.
“But when everybody takes off running like the fans did, it is kind of weird. Some people on the track said to get down just in case it was a shooting but I don’t think anything was found.”
McPeek said the players handled the incident well. The game already had a running clock and only had about four minutes left to play in Douglas’ 43-0 win.
“We had our young guys in and they actually came back out and scored a touchdown,” McPeek said. “Even the officials told us they had never seen anything like that happen before. Hopefully we won’t have anything like this happen again.”
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Lisa Deffendall, director of communications and community relations for Fayette County Public Schools, sent out this statement after the incident:
“The fourth quarter of the football game between Frederick Douglass and Bryan Station high school football this evening was interrupted when frightened fans believed someone had a gun at the game.
“According to initial reports, an unaccompanied younger student sitting on the Douglass side of the stands shouted that someone had a gun. In response, some fans in the nearby area ran out of the stadium, while others laid down in the bleachers. The game stopped for a brief period while players also got down on the field.
“We are actively investigating to determine those responsible for inciting this panic. At this time we have found no evidence that there was a gun present. Although we have seen social media postings to the contrary, none of the police officers, adult chaperones, or administrators at the game heard the sound of shots or firecrackers.
“We are thankful that no one was injured. We will be examining our policies and practices to ensure the safety of everyone who gathers to cheer on our student athletes, which may include limitations on unaccompanied minors at games.”