(AP) – Authorities have charged five men, including the alleged gunman, in connection with a shooting at a New Jersey high school football game that they said Saturday was the result of “petty vengeance.” Three people were wounded, including two seriously.
The shooting at a packed Friday night playoff game between the Camden Panthers and the Pleasantville Greyhounds, sent fans and players frantically running for safety.
A 10-year-old boy was wounded and remained in critical condition Saturday, while a 27-year-old man was in stable condition and will be undergoing surgery. A 15-year-old boy was also was treated for a graze wound. The victims’ names have not been released.
“Unlike some of the shootings that have occurred on school premises throughout the country, this incident had nothing to do with the students of Pleasantville High School or Camden High School,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner said in a news release. “The venue simply presented an opportunity for criminals to pursue their own form of petty vengeance against one another. As a result, an innocent child was caught and injured in their crossfire. Our community will not be held hostage by a few idiots intent on jeopardizing our safety and the safety of our children.”
He did not say any more about the motive for the shooting.
Tyner said Alvin Wyatt, 31, of Atlantic City, has been charged with three counts of attempted murder and two weapons counts. Three other men face weapons charges, and a fourth faces weapons and eluding charges. It wasn’t known Saturday if any of the five have retained attorneys.
The stands in Pleasantville, near Atlantic City, were packed Friday night to watch the Greyhounds, which won its first division title in 43 years this season.
When the shooting began, panicked spectators and some of the players knocked down a fence in their haste to escape the confines of the field. Some children were separated from their parents, and other parents held babies and young children tight to keep them from being run over by those fleeing, according to Jonathan Diego, who was at the game.
“It was mayhem, literally people coming in waves running away,” said Diego, who helped coach a Pleasantville youth football team involved in a game in which three people were shot and wounded in 2005. All survived. That same team was practicing in 2015 when a spectator was shot but survived.
Diego said his friend, a retired paramedic, gave first aid to the young boy who was shot.
“He applied pressure to the little boy’s wounds on his neck, trying to slow down the bleeding until the ambulance could come up,” Diego said.
Videos obtained by The Associated Press show people hitting the ground, running from the bleachers and jumping over chain-link fences as gunfire sounds. At least six gunshots are audible in a video from Jersey Sports Zone, which also shows players stop mid-play, look at the stands and then turn and run.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy lamented the violence.
“High school playoff football should be a cause for community celebration, not the backdrop for panic and terror,” Murphy said Saturday. “Last night was a stark reminder that no community is immune from gun violence, and that we must not ever give up in our efforts to prevent such senseless acts.”