Chaos erupted at the Nationals ballpark in Washington, D.C. as a shooting took place just outside the third base gate.
Spectators fled throughout the MLB stadium, with some even scrambling over railings onto the baseball field and hiding inside the dugouts as many were unsure where the shots were coming from.
Initial reports indicated an active shooter situation, but police later informed attendees that the incident occurred outside of the stadium and the fans inside were never in any danger.
“I just want to assure the public that at no time during this incident were individuals inside the stadium attending the game in any kind of danger. This was not an active shooter incident and it’s not being investigated as such. Everything took place outside the stadium,” said Ashan Benedict, executive assistant chief of police for D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department.
Unfortunately, due to failure on the part of ballpark officials, chaos erupted in the stadium as the shots rang out, resulting in initial media reports about an active shooter.
Ballpark officials “did not address the gunshots over the loudspeakers for at least five minutes, leading to ‘pandemonium,’” according to the New York Post.
“I saw the staff there like deer in the headlights,” Jaime Varela, an attendee, told the Post. “They didn’t know what was going on, they didn’t know what to tell us.”
“Active shooter situation outside @Nationals Park tonight. Thankfully safe, but definitely a scary moment. Thank you @DCPoliceDept for keeping us safe,” Varela wrote on Twitter.
— Jaime A. Varela (@jvarela42) July 18, 2021
The New York Post reports:
“Players could be seen running into the stands, including Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who grabbed family members and brought them into the clubhouse, in video posted by Kevin Acee, the Padres reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin was one of several people who fled for the concourse. Others rushed into bathrooms or suites, according to an NBC Washington photojournalist.”
Amid the chaos, ballpark officials finally addressed the shooting, posting a message on the scoreboard telling fans to remain inside the stadium. The message was later updated to say that it was safe for fans to leave the park.
“We held shelter in place for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. At that time we said fans were allowed, not that they had to, but they were allowed to exit through Center Field Gates and Right Field Gates on the other side of the stadium, because MPD had let me know that it was safe enough that they could go outside, out of the gate that way,” said Scott Fear, vice president for public safety and security for the Washington Nationals.
According to police, there were three victims: one woman who was found wounded outside of the stadium, and two others who showed up at a nearby hospital a short time after the shooting, who were taken into custody.
Two additional victims associated with this incident walked into area hospitals for treatment of gunshot wounds. MPD is on scene and actively investigating at this time.
— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) July 18, 2021
The game was postponed until 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 18.