Tragedy unites community as investigation continues
A teenager has died following a shooting during Choctaw High School’s season-opening football game with Del City.
Just after 10:10 p.m. with 3:56 left in the third quarter of Choctaw’s home opener against Del City, multiple gun shots rang out near the entrance to the visitor side bleachers.
Players, officials, and fans fled the stadium or took cover to later exit the area.
Police say a 16-year-old male suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the groin. He was a Midwest City High School student.
A 42-year-old male, believed to be the father of a Del City High School student, sustained a gunshot wound to the chest and was transported to OU Medical Center. He remains in the ICU in stable condition. County Sheriff Tommie Johnson confirmed an off-duty Del City police officer shot the 42-year-old man.
Johnson said the officer “perceived some sort of threat” and fired his weapon at the man, hitting him in the chest. Johnson could not give more details on that shooting until further investigating is done but said the officer did not shoot the 16-year-old teen that died.
“We’re still very early on in the investigation and can’t comment further on what the officer perceived,” Johnson said.
A Choctaw High School sophomore was also shot. She was hit in the thigh by a stray bullet. Authorities say the bullet went through without hitting bone. She was treated and released Friday night.
Two other females, believed to be Choctaw students, suffered significant injuries trying to flee the area. One sustained a broken wrist and another had a broken leg.
Many other minor injuries were reported as up to 6,000 people fled a packed Bill Jensen Field following the gun shots.
Two guns and eight rounds were recovered at the scene.
Authorities are still searching for a person of interest described as a black male wearing red sweat pants.
The investigation is a joint effort by Choctaw, Del City and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office.
“I can say my investigator alongside the Oklahoma County detective have worked nonstop on this case,” said Choctaw Police Chief Kelly Marshall on Monday.
Authorities say officers from a plethora of nearby agencies responded to assist Friday night.
Police ask that anyone with information about the incident call law enforcement immediately.
Choctaw-Nicoma Park officials have cancelled football games for this coming week. Officials are expected to make decisions on resuming other sports and activities later this week.
“In response to the tragic and horrific event that took place during last Friday night’s football game, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all football games this week. Freshman, junior varsity and varsity games will resume as previously scheduled on September 4,” said CHS head coach Jake Corbin. “We will be easing back into football as the pulse of our team dictates over the next few days and we ask for your continued support in navigating our way through this very difficult time for our program and our community.”
Corbin expressed pride in his team and community following the tragedy.
“In the midst of chaos and uncertainty last Friday, I witnessed countless acts of heroism and bravery from our football team. Within moments after the incident, players were seen shielding others from danger, carrying young children to safety, helping families locate loved ones and offering help to anyone in need. Their selfless acts of courage have been an inspiration to our community in a time of need.”
Officials say coaches and players weren’t alone as many community members stepped up with acts of heroism and unity following the tragic event.
“It’s disheartening to see the trauma that these kids had to experience. I hope the district and community can get them resources they need for this to not stick with them. Everything I saw following this makes me believe they will,” said Marshall. “You hear the stories of community members helping scared kids, and even opening their homes to kids banging on their door in the middle of the night when they ran from campus. This day in age, that’s really special. Attending the prayer vigil Sunday, I can say I’ve never been more impressed by students in my life. This was student-led, and the church and overflow was packed. One student even asked for prayers for the suspect in this case, and I thought that was really neat.”
After shots rang out, many school officials tried to calmly help fleeing citizens out of the stadium, and directed lost children to the CHS weight room and band room for shelter.
“School administration was directly involved in life-saving efforts that night. Everyone from the superintendent down was directly involved, and did what they could. The community should be proud of the group we have here,” said Marshall. “Virtual school director Steve Keiffer and his brother David, who is a trauma surgeon, worked on the 42-year-old victim, while my officers tried to save the 16-year-old.”
Choctaw-Nicoma Park superintendent David Reid says the strength of the eastern Oklahoma County community was on full display Friday night.
“The minute the shots rang out it was no longer Choctaw vs. Del City. It was a community trying to help each other. You had football players shielding cheerleaders so they could get off the field, older students picking up younger kids, Choctaw students helping Del City students find a place to hide, Air Force JROTC members making circles of protection, band members leading people through the woods and endless stories like that. We came together as one community, and there’s just story after story like that, which is really cool,” said Reid.