The sound of balls hissing and slamming into the bleachers of the baseball diamond caused panic Friday afternoon at Brookhaven Exchange Club Park.
Children aged seven and 8 were practicing on the grounds of Exchange Club Park Circle when shots were fired at 209 Linton Ave. around 6:15 p.m. Players, coaches and parents rushed in, not knowing where the bullets were coming from, who was shooting or at whom.
The same panic struck attendees at a scrimmage game for 9- to 12-year-olds at the baseball field between Linton Avenue, Exchange Street and Hartman Street.
“We were there training and shots started ringing out. People were running everywhere. I heard a lady say ‘they shot her,’ youth baseball coach Ricky Breazeale said. “I put the boys in the dugout and we hunkered down.”
Brookhaven’s Christy Hodges was sitting in the stands with a few other mothers watching their children practice when they heard the first shots.
“We heard the first round of shots, about nine or 10, super fast, then a brief pause,” Hodges said. “I stood up and before anyone could react we heard the second round of gunfire. The coaches yelled at the kids to hit the ground, and some are upset. The moms could feel the bullets hitting the bleachers we were on.
Hodges said they ran and got into the canoes for safety. One of the moms called 911.
“They said others had also reported the shots. She was trying to explain that we were hunkered down – should we leave or stay? But she just got a nonchalant response from the dispatcher,” Hodges said. We really have no idea what to do at this time with our children. They basically said if you felt safe leaving, then leave.
Hodges said she knew police responded to the area where the shots came from, but they did not see any units entering the park area. After about 10 minutes, the people in the canoes decided to move in groups to their cars and leave.
“I know our coach went to the station that night,” Hodges said, where he filed a report. He was told to ask people who were in the stands to report the next morning, Hodges said. When she went to report, Hodges said she was told the investigator was busy and should call her.
“I never got that phone call from the investigator,” Hodges said. “What I would really like is for our leaders to recognize that things are progressing and give updates to the public. It’s frustrating as a parent.
According to Police Chief Kenneth Collins, an altercation broke out between several young black men on Linton Avenue, and one person – Cortez Osborne, 19 – was shot in the arm. He was taken by private vehicle to King’s Daughters Medical Center, where he received treatment.
The case is still under investigation.