Gun violence doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should; This year alone there have been almost 300 mass shootings in the country, according to Gun Violence Archive. In the most recent incident of gun violence reported nationally, a shooting occurred outside Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., on Saturday during a game between the San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals. Echoes of the gunfire could be heard inside the stadium and caused fans to seek safety.
According to Ashan Benedict, the Metropolitan Police Department’s executive assistant police chief, the shooting was an exchange of gunfire between people in two cars and left at least three injured, CNN reported. Police initially said on Twitter that four people were shot, however confirmed later that three were injured and a woman who was shot is expected to recover.
The two others wounded were associated with a recovered vehicle and are now in the hospital being questioned by police, Benedict said.
“People were down on the ground, kind of petrified, trying to calm down the younger kids,” Ted Borenstein, who was at the game, told the Associated Press. “I was taken aback, I was scared,” he said.
Another fan expressed similar sentiments noting that prior to announcements of an active shooting many people in the stadium were unaware of what was happening. “We weren’t sure what it was. Then everyone started ducking,” Arman Ramnath said. “It felt very surreal. I wasn’t really sure how to react,” Ramnath said. “I mean, you hear about it … but you never expect it to be something that could affect you.’
Benedict confirmed that there was no threat to the people inside the stadium, but nevertheless, the experience of being present during a shooting itself can be traumatizing—especially when you don’t know what is going on. “I just want to assure the public that at no time during this incident were individuals inside the stadium attending the game in any kind of danger. This was not an active shooter incident and it’s not being investigated as such. Everything took place outside the stadium,” he said.
While one of the vehicles involved in the shootout was recovered, the other remains at large. Police officials are looking for assistance in identifying and locating the vehicle. Images shared on social media Sunday depicted the car as a gray Toyota Corolla with a missing hubcap on the rear driver’s side. According to authorities, the car captured by surveillance cameras in the area has dark-tinted windows, and investigators believed it had a temporary Virginia tag.
In response to the shooting, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and Mark D. Lerner, managing principal owner of the baseball team, issued a joint statement that condemned the violence and said: “stand together against senseless acts of gun violence in the city we love. Gun violence—no matter where it occurs in our city—is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
According to CNN, police officials said to expect increased patrol when the suspended game resumes.
The shooting follows a rise in gun violence across the U.S. This year alone almost 10,000 people have been killed from gun violence, CBS News reported. According to a study of 24 major cities, homicides increased by 24% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same time period in 2020 and by 49% from that period in 2019.
What’s worse is children and teens are the most exposed population to gun violence and often the most likely victims. On Friday a 6-year-old girl was fatally shot while home with her mother, father, and older sister in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast Washington. The case is one of many that often go underreported in the U.S.
According to The Washington Post, more than 256,000 school-age students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine. As a result children, unlike many adults, have been trained on how to act in such situations with many even noting that they are prepared. In a heartbreaking interview clip shared on social media one 8-year-old fan shares that because this was her second shooting experience she was “kind of prepared,” when the shooting outside of the Nationals Park occurred.
America needs to do better to protect its youth and citizens. Not only do we need better laws on gun control but we need to invest in violence prevention programs and provide support including mental and physical health care for survivors of gun violence.
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