What to Know
- A man and two boys were shot during the Camden-Pleasantville high school football game Friday night.
- The shooting during the third quarter sent spectators and players running for cover.
- A 31-year-old Atlantic City is accused of attempted murder. Five others, including the adult shooting victim, face gun charges.
Players and spectators ran for cover Friday night after a gunman opened fire on a crowded New Jersey high school football game.
Bullets struck a 10-year-old boy, a 15-year-old student and a 27-year-old man. All three victims were in the stands during a crowded playoff game between the Camden Panthers and the Pleasantville Greyhounds when the shooting broke out, according to Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner.
Officials believe the oldest victim, Ibn Abdullah, was the intended target. He is facing weapons charges after a gun was found on him. Abdullah remains in stable condition.
The suspected shooter, 31-year-old Alvin Wyatt of Atlantic City, has been charged with three counts of attempted murder and two weapons counts, according to Tyner.
He was captured in the end zone moments after the shooting by a Pleasantville officer assigned to the game, Tyner said.
Three other men - Michael Mack, 27, Tyrell Dorn, 28, Shahid Dixon, 27, all of Atlantic City, and Vance Golden, 26, of Pleasantville - are charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, Tyner said. Dixon is also accused of eluding capture.
After the shooting, they were seen driving toward Atlantic City with their headlights off, officials said. They were chased by a police officer and one of the passengers threw a gun off a drawbridge, investigators said. That gun was later recovered.
It is unclear if any of the men have attorneys who could comment for them.
The 10-year-old victim, who was shot in the neck and airlifted to Cooper Medical Center, remained in critical condition Saturday. The 15-year-old victim was treated for a graze wound and released, prosecutors said.
On Saturday, authorities declined to discuss what led to the shooting, citing the ongoing investigation, but said it did not appear that any of the men charged had any connection to the game.
“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,” 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.”
Pleasantville High School is about 7 miles west of Atlantic City and recently won a division title for the first time in 43 years. On Friday, the stands were packed to see the top-seeded Greyhounds take on the No. 4-seeded Panthers.
A reporter with The Press of Atlantic City, who was at the game, said the shooting occurred in the third quarter, during a punt with Camden leading 6-0.
Videos obtained by The Associated Press and NBC10 showed people hitting the ground, running from the bleachers and jumping over chain-link fences as gunfire erupted. At least six gunshots were audible in a Jersey Sports Zone video, which also showed players stopping mid-play, looking at the stands and then turning to run.
Panicked spectators and some players knocked down a fence in their haste to escape the field.
“It was mayhem, literally people coming in waves running away” Jonathan Diego, who played for the Pleasantville team in 1984, said.
Diego said he coached a 2005 youth football game during which three spectators were shot. All three survived.
In 2015, a father for that same team was shot while watching his son practice.
“Unfortunately, around here it’s not as uncommon as it sounds,” Diego said.
He described a panicked scene as some children were separated from their parents. Others clutched their babies and young children to keep them from being trampled by fleeing spectators.
Law enforcement officers who were working the game quickly jumped in to help the wounded victims, as did some firefighters and other officers who were off-duty and happened to be attending the game.
Diego said his friend, a retired paramedic, provided first aid to the 10-year-old victim.
“He ... [tried] to slow down the bleeding until the ambulance could come,” Diego said.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy commended the efforts of medics and police, but condemned the shooting.
"High school playoff football should be a cause for community celebration, not the backdrop for panic and terror," he said.
The football game will be continued from the point when the shooting occurred, authorities said. That game take place at a neutral location with no fans allowed.