Utica, New York — Tensions flared outside a high school soccer game on Saturday, leading to a security guard being shot as he attempted to break up a fight.
The incident occurred just after 4:00 p.m. in a parking lot adjacent to Thomas R. Proctor High School. A group of about a dozen youths were involved in a skirmish on the sidewalk when the scene took a terrifying turn. Two shots broke the din, as captured in a video of the event.
One security personnel, attempting to quell the violence between the clashing groups, was struck by a bullet in the back of the head. He crumpled onto the asphalt, critically injured.
The injured guard was promptly rushed to a local hospital, where he remains in critical condition.
Utica Police Chief Mark Williams shed light on the events leading up to the shooting. The group involved in the altercation had been denied entry into the varsity game against Binghamton High School moments before the tragic incident unfolded. Sensing something amiss with the group, the school’s security decided to keep them out of the stadium.
“He suspected something was wrong with this group and refused to enter the stadium,” Williams elaborated. Even though the stadium is equipped with metal detectors, the guard had the group moved away before a potential warning about the firearm could be relayed.
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Search for the Gunman
Law enforcement authorities are now hunting for the individual responsible for the shooting. Described as a lone gunman who managed to flee the scene, the motive behind the attack remains unclear, though speculations lean towards gang affiliations.
This incident in Utica mirrors recent events at other high school sports venues. Just last week in Louisiana, a halftime scuffle during a soccer game resulted in the tragic death of a student and injury to a woman. The aftermath of the incident led to the arrest of an 18-year-old, though the precise circumstances of the crime have not been publicly disclosed.
Similarly, the previous month saw a 16-year-old tragically lose his life during an Oklahoma soccer match, caught in a hail of bullets from the stands. Footage from the event captures the harrowing moment players and fans scrambled for safety amidst the chaos.
A Disturbing Trend
Recent headlines from across the globe further emphasize the increasing connection between violence and sports events: a Panama national soccer player was fatally shot on a public roadway, two individuals were wounded at a Chicago White Sox-Oakland Athletics game, and an Argentinean Lanus fan was killed in a clash between rival fan groups.
As communities grapple with these harrowing events, questions arise about the safety of public gatherings and the measures in place to protect attendees.