The shootings that disrupted William Penn Senior High School’s first football game of the season came after a verbal dispute inside the stadium, according to York (Pa.) City Police.
Police were dispatched to the football field parking lot shortly after 9:30 p.m. on Friday for a shooting report, and police said they found two victims: Darius Allen, 23, of York, who was struck once in the abdomen, and 20-year-old Antwan Jackson, from the York area, who was struck once in the back.
The men were taken to York Hospital by ambulance.
Allen was listed in critical condition, and Jackson was listed in stable condition early Saturday morning, according to police. Later, a York Hospital spokeswoman said no information was available on the condition of the two men.
York City Police Lt. Troy M. Bankert said no arrests have been made. He said in an email that the victims’ “involvement in the dispute and the shooting remain inconclusive at this point in the investigation.”
York Mayor Kim Bracey attended part of Friday night’s game and left before the shootings in the Small Field parking lot. She said she “couldn’t sleep” afterward.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Bracey said, later adding, “Everything was so positive about the evening, and to have it come to a crashing halt … I want to say words that you can’t print. But that doesn’t help it either.”
Tony Orr, a 1981 William Penn graduate and former football player at the school, attended Friday’s game but left Small Field just before the shootings occurred.
Orr, the owner of a downtown barbershop, suggested the district consider moving William Penn football home games to Saturday afternoons. Orr said when he played, Saturday home games for the Bearcats was the norm.
“Everything is daylight and you see everything,” he said. “It’s safer.”
Orr said Friday’s incident put a damper on the evening as a whole. He added Friday’s contest was one of the more well-attended Bearcats’ home games in recent years.
“I think (Saturday games) would help keep support of the fans and the community,” he said. “A lot of people are saying they will never go again, but this option would make the community feel safe and continue support.”
Michael Helfrich, vice president of York City Council, said there was a shooting in his own neighborhood a few weeks ago. He said that kind of event “terrifies” people who live close by.
But Helfrich said the shootings outside the football game affect the entire city – the way terrorism does. He called the shooters “domestic terrorists.”
Helfrich said city and school officials should consider having an increased police presence at football games. Like Orr, Helfrich suggested moving away from having games at nights.
“I hate to react to terrorism,” he said. “But what do you do to protect the safety of the students and the families?”
Bracey said it’s too early to make that kind of decision, and the timing of events will be up to the school district. She said the city is committed to stopping gun violence.
“We want to have a good and prosperous community, and we will,” Bracey said. “And this senseless gun violence will stop.”
Alfred Mayo, an assistant coach for a youth football program, was at Small Field on Saturday morning with his 10-year-old son. He said the shootings outside the game put a negative light on people trying to do good things.
“That’s the shameful part,” Mayo said.
As many as eight shots rang out in the school game’s fourth quarter, which had about eight minutes left to go at the time. William Penn was playing against J.P. McCaskey.
A call for shots fired was dispatched over the radio. School police officers put the stadium on lockdown almost immediately, not letting anyone in or out until the scene was declared safe.
That decision came about 20 minutes later by the York City Police Department, which is heading the investigation into the shooting. At about 10:50 p.m., York City School District Spokeswoman Erin James said she had no report from officials that anyone was in custody.
Police from multiple agencies responded to the scene. Officers from as far away as Hellam Township were at the field assisting. West York Borough and Pennsylvania State troopers were also helping.
“Of course, we’re all disappointed,” York City School District Superintendent Eric Holmes said at Small Field. “But we’ll move forward.”
Holmes said his school police officers are helping York City Police, including working with them to share footage from cameras that are posted on light poles in the parking lot.
Police cordoned off a large, middle section of the lot that sits diagonally across from where Albright and Hamilton avenues intersect. The owners of the cars that were parked inside the caution tape were not allowed to leave as officers investigated.
But as the call to lift the lockdown went out, a large stream of people flooded into the lot.
School officials said over 1,000 people were at the game.
At the gates to the field, the school has metal detectors set up. Holmes said no one is allowed in to a game without first going through a detector.
The game was called, with McCaskey winning 26-6.
Julian and Kathy Glover, a married couple, were at the game. They said they were by the gates and planning on leaving when the shots rang out.
Kathy Glover said some people were running. Some dropped to the ground.
“You could see the sparks from the rounds,” she said.