PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. — A man and a boy about 10 years old were injured Friday night when gunshots erupted at a high school football game in Pleasantville, authorities said.
The game between Camden and Pleasantville High Schools was in the third quarter shortly before 8:30 p.m. when there was gunfire in the bleachers.
Camden coach Dwayne Savage said, “They were punting the ball to us, and the ball was rolling on the ground when we heard the gunshots from the home stands. Players started running off the field. I jumped onto the ground with some other coaches and players. We got everyone to the bus as soon as we could, and we left.”
In a video posted on Twitter by Jersey Sports Zone, an outlet that covers high school sports, the players can be seen waiting for the punt to roll to a stop when six shots are heard. The camera points to the ground for a few seconds and then back up to show people in the stands scattering in a panic.
Savage added, “Of course, it was all chaos when something like that happens at a high school game.”
None of the players or referees was hurt, Savage said.
Neal Loch, a retired battalion chief with the Pleasantville Fire Department, helped the injured boy, who he said was unconscious and appeared to be bleeding from the neck. He and an athletic trainer applied pressure to the wound until emergency responders arrived.
Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner arrived at the field about 11 p.m. and said "the child was flown to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia with some serious injuries.”
He added, '"It’s an active and ongoing investigation. They’ve shut down the field and are bringing in the forensics people."
He said the two victims were not related.
“It’s just a tragic situation. People at a high school football game have to endure this and hear gunshots,” Tyner said.
Earlier, Pleasantville Police Chief Sean Riggin said both victims had been “seriously injured.”
The Camden School District issued a statement late Friday that “no Camden High students were injured or otherwise harmed during the incident.”
Pleasantville running back Ernest Howard, a 17-year-old senior, described the chaos on the field. “We just heard the gunshots, and we just all started running,” he said.
The players ran through a hole in a fence and to the gym, he said. “We didn’t turn back. We just ran.”
Pleasantville arts teacher Arthur Taylor said he was in the concession stand when someone yelled out that there was a shooting.
“We were pulling kids inside the concession stand,” Taylor said. “We were keeping everyone down.”
Mike Frankel, another journalist at the scene, tweeted, “Gunshots just fired at Camden-Pleasantville game. A young boy was shot in the stands. Absolute madness.”
Blankets and jackets were left behind on the bleachers by spectators who fled. Camden was leading Pleasantville by 6-0 in the Central Jersey Group 2 semifinal. A girl in the Pleasantville Greyhounds Marching Band walked away from the field with her mother, both in tears.
The Greyhounds have found recent success, and it was the largest crowd to attend a football game in Pleasantville in years, many noted, including alumni and teachers.
“It’s sad,” said Taylor, the Pleasantville teacher. “The team did such a great job this year and brought such positivity.”
On the sidelines, Pleasantville player Fernando Flores-Zelaya, worried for his sisters in the bleachers after the shots rang out.
“I was going to go in for defense when I heard the shots,” he said. “All my teammates just started running. I just started running, jumping the fence. As soon as I got to the gym, all my teammates were crying.”
As he got into a minivan with his mother and sisters to leave the field, still in uniform, he said: "It was horrible. The worst feeling I ever felt.”
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association issued a statement on Twitter: “The NJSIAA is aware of the incident at tonight’s Camden at Pleasantville playoff football game. We are following the initial reports of what took place. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected in the Pleasantville and Camden communities.”
Police investigators remained at the field collecting evidence from the bleachers until after midnight.