At least 3 wounded in shooting outside MLB game Saturday; suspects still at large

Southeast

Spectators stand in the visiting team dugout during a stoppage in play due to an incident near the ballpark in the sixth inning of a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the San Diego Padres, Saturday, July 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — A summer night at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. turned into a traumatic scene as gunfire outside the stadium sent fans and players scrambling Saturday night.

Now, some people are left questioning just how safe America’s past time is.

The game between the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres was halted with the Padres leading 8-4 in the middle of the sixth inning. The teams were to play the regularly scheduled game later in the day.

Several loud pop sounds rang out from the left field of the stadium when Madeline Smedley says she ducked for cover.

“It sounded like about seven or so really loud bangs,” Smedley said. “At first, we couldn’t tell if it was actually gunfire or just a car backfiring or some giant cart rolling along the street.”

The scoreboard displays a message to fans during a stoppage in play due to an incident near the ballpark in the sixth inning of a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the San Diego Padres, Saturday, July 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

When the shots were heard, it was not immediately clear where they were coming from. The gunshots caused panic among fans and players inside the stadium, and announcers warned people to stay inside the gates.

“People were fleeing, stampeding, hiding,” Smedley recalled. “They came over the announcement to tell us to remain calm, but people don’t tend to remain calm when told to remain calm. And it was probably about five minutes after the shots until they actually told us it was outside the stadium.”

Star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was one of several Padres who helped shepherd fans from the stands into the San Diego dugout for shelter.

“On the first base side where the Nationals players were, it looked like they were running into the stands and grabbing their families and pulling them into the dugout. And when the Padres were opening up a gate and letting some fans run into their dugout,” Smedley said. “My section had nowhere to go, if we went up the stairs, we were fleeing towards the gunshots, and we couldn’t get onto the field.”  

The shooting, an exchange of gunfire between people in two cars, left three people injured, Ashan Benedict, the Metropolitan Police Department’s executive assistant police chief, said Saturday night.

“One vehicle pulls up, another vehicle pulls up next to it, engages that first vehicle in gunfire,” Benedict said.

Despite the chaos, officials said that at no time were any fans in the stadium in danger.

Officers were able to stop one of the vehicles and question the people inside, but police are still looking for the suspects Sunday night. The main clue in their investigation — the suspect’s vehicle, which police described as a gray Toyota Carolla with a missing hubcap on the rear driver’s side wheel and dark tinted windows displaying a Virginia temporary tag.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki threw out the first pitch before Sunday’s regularly scheduled matchup between the Padres and Nationals. Neither the team nor Major League Baseball officials announced any enhanced security measures for the game.

Nationals Manager Davey Martinez told reporters Sunday that he feels “safer than ever” in the ballpark, because of stadium staff doing a great job managing the chaos Saturday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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