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Parents concerned after shooting at athletic complex with children playing nearby

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 3:20 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2021 at 4:49 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - One person was killed in a shooting Tuesday night at the Jennifer Ross Soccer Complex in Savannah.

Parents, coaches, and bystanders have told WTOC that football games and soccer practices were happening at the time of the shooting. No children were injured during the incident.

A woman, whose son and nephew were playing for the Bloomingdale Bears 10U football team, says she was cheering on the team and then the next thing she remembers is hearing five gunshots and a lady scream.

That’s when she says the fields turned into chaos.

She says adults, like herself, we’re picking up children, even helping them climb over fences so they can get to safety.

The group she was with hid near the bathrooms.

“They were…I mean, crying. It was terrible. I mean, the look on all the children’s face with fear running. You can see they were in the middle of a game and having to be safe, to running for your life so scared, crying, not knowing what’s going on,” Lauren Moore said.

Moore says she hopes that there is a bigger police presence at the complex for future athletic games and practices.

“It’s very terrifying because you never know what can happen. You don’t know where that person is. You don’t know if the person with the gun is running, or running near you,” said Moore.

However, she said her son and nephew’s team, the Bloomingdale Bears, have already decided they will not be coming back to use the Jennifer Ross Soccer Complex and she is happy with the team’s decision.

WTOC spoke with a parent and his son, who was playing at the complex at the time of the shooting.

“My wife had called to inform me that there had been a shooting at the parking lot and the players had been evacuated, rushed off the field, through the woods, to the other side of the complex,” said Matt, a parent to a soccer player.

“I heard some faint shouting and the next thing I know, five shots were fired. I heard it in the parking lot and as soon as you heard that, coaches evacuated us through the woods to the other side of the complex,” said Matt’s son, Joseph, who was playing soccer.

We also spoke to a dad, who says his 16-year-old son was playing soccer when the shooting happened. Nate Shaffer says it’s a phone call no parent should get.

“Your emotions…you don’t know what’s going to get the better of you. You’re worried obviously but you also become very frustrated because you’re a distance away from this individual,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer says his son and others found safety away from where the shooting happened. He’s thankful, but still upset.

“It’s very frustrating knowing that someone was shot and that bullet could have easily strayed and gone somewhere else, and maybe even have killed a kid, you don’t know. That’s the fear a lot of parents are going through,” said Shaffer.

Moore is one of those parents, who is also, at the same time, trying to help her son deal with what they experienced.

“All I could do was hold him and tell him that we’re okay and we’re going to be okay.”

Parents say there were soccer practices and football games happening. We do know Savannah United was out here Tuesday night.

The soccer organization sent a statement to families saying they’re working with Chatham County about future safety measures, and soccer will resume once those measure are put into place.

According to a news release from Chatham County government, the Jennifer Ross Soccer Complex will be closed Wednesday, Oct. 13.

According to county, the shooting and a separate, unrelated incident occurred at the facility over the past week.

County officials are working to develop stricter security measures for the facility.

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