A nonlethal shooting took place outside a South Carolina baseball field Monday night while several Little League games were underway, forcing panicked children to flee and seek cover as dozens of shots rapidly fired.
The incident in North Charleston is under investigation by police, who have recovered guns from the scene. No injuries have been reported.
Video of the incident shows young children fleeing the field and dropping to the ground mid-game as around 50 shots rang out. One child playing catcher freezes when he hears the gunfire, then rips off his helmet and begins running. A child who was getting ready to bat looks around in a panic before doing the same.
“Get off the field!” one adult yells. “Crawl that way! Crawl that way!” another pleads.
“Assistant Chief Greg Gomes is shocked by the video and horrified at the events that took place in our city tonight,” NCPD spokesperson Harve Jacobs said in a statement. “He vehemently denounces this violence and is outraged at those responsible for putting so many innocent lives in danger.”
No suspects have been taken into custody yet, but the department is “actively investigating this 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.
According to the police report, officers arrived at the parking lot at the Pepperhill Park baseball fields after hearing rapid gunshots shortly before 9 p.m. Witnesses told police that “a large group of teenagers pulled into the parking lot in separate vehicles and began to fist fight with each other” and eventually “began shooting at each other” before fleeing in their vehicles, the report said.
North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey, a Republican, said at a press conference Tuesday that it was deeply upsetting to see gun violence affect kids.
“When you see children diving on the ground playing baseball, that will not be tolerated,” he said.
“This destroyed the hearts of a lot of people ― mothers, fathers, children,” he continued and announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in this case.
Games at the park have been canceled Tuesday and Wednesday while police formulate a safety plan with the city’s recreation department.
South Carolina has been rocked by multiple mass shootings in recent weeks, including two over the Easter weekend. Since then, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has vowed to support a bill imposing tougher penalties on people for illegally carrying guns.
Democratic state Sen. Dick Harpootlian said in the chamber earlier this month that he’s desperate to remedy the situation.
“In the upstate we had a 12-year-old shoot a 12-year-old. A 12-year-old shoot a 12-year-old ― murder him,” he said, referring to an incident last month in Greenville. “The easy accessibility to guns by these young people, mostly, and their ability to carry them or feel like they can carry them anywhere, is killing us and them.”
President Joe Biden, fed up with Congress’ inability to pass new gun laws, recently announced a sweeping new executive action on firearms. This includes a crackdown on “ghost guns” ― firearms that are bought in parts and assembled at home to evade tracking ― and increased police funding, despite opposition from progressives on the latter.