Football teams rattled after shooting near Goddard Stadium

Players, fans are evacuated from field, stands after report of gunshots from a nearby car
By David Pan | Sep 20, 2018
Photo by: David Pan Kamiak players run off the field after gunshots were reportedly fired from a car driving on a street near Goddard Stadium during the annual game against Mariner on Friday, Sept. 14. Only one minor injury was reported when fans were leaving the grandstands.

The annual Kamiak/Mariner football game will be remembered for a long, long time.

But not for the right reasons.

The Marauders were leading 40-13 with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter when the game was stopped after gunshots were fired from a car driving near the stadium. Players, coaches and spectators were immediately evacuated from Goddard Stadium. The only reported injury was a student who rolled an ankle while exiting.

School officials reported that a fight took place in the west parking lot at Mariner High School at around 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 14. Shortly after the fight ended, law enforcement officials said that gunshots were fired from a car driving on 4th Avenue West.

Mariner junior Josiah Pesterkoff was on the visitor’s sidelines watching his teammates when he noticed a commotion in the opposite grandstands.

“I saw people from across the sidelines, the Kamiak side, they were just running,” Pesterkoff said.

A teammate’s mother then shouted that everyone needed to leave because there had been a shooting.

“That’s when everybody started running,” Pesterkoff said.

Teammate R.J. Fry also was standing on the sidelines and noticed Kamiak spectators running away. He turned around and saw people in the Mariner stands doing the same.

“I heard (coach Mark) Stewart say run, so I ran and I just hopped the fence and went into the bathroom,” Fry said.

Mariner assistant coach Brad Tonahill was directing players and spectators to the bathroom.

The bathroom was filled with teammates and students, some of whom were crying and experiencing what appeared to be anxiety attacks, Fry said.

“Everybody was scared,” Fry added. “I was trying to calm everyone down and make sure everybody was fine.”

Eventually, police said it was OK to come out and Fry and the others walked to the fire station where they sat and waited.

“There were a lot of people really scared,” Pesterkoff said. “I was just ‘It’s all right. Just take a breath. It happened outside.’”

Both Stewart and Kamiak coach Bryant Thomas were focused on the action on the field when spectators began to leave the grandstands.

“I turned around and saw the crowd moving up in the stands. I didn’t know exactly what was going on,” Stewart said. “The crowd was moving quickly to the doors. I thought it might have been a fight. We realized within seconds something was going on.

“We heard something about some shots. I was trying to organize the kids, trying to take care of the players on the field and trying to understand which direction we needed to go. There was a little bit of confusion at that point.”

Some of the Kamiak and Mariner players helped direct spectators to the east parking lot.

“I was trying to make sure that everybody got out safe,” Pesterkoff said.

“The great thing about last night was that our kids and Mariner kids did an awesome job of being humanitarians,” Thomas said. “They were trying to take care of kids who were crying. … They were not just worried about themselves. They were worrying about everyone else.”

Kamiak players headed back to Kamiak High School and then were released to their parents.

“The kids didn’t say much. They were scared,” Thomas said. “There was a lot of information out there. They didn’t know what to believe. There was a little bit of shock and awe. They can’t believe it happened. Everybody was happy that the team was OK.”

Mariner players gathered on Saturday for a regularly scheduled meeting.

“There were a lot of different reactions,” Stewart said. “They will be pretty resilient. They’ll have a lot of support.”

Mariner High School freed up all of its counseling resources on Monday to meet with students. Kamiak High School also had staff available to assist students who needed support.

“A lot of people were traumatized,” Pesterkoff said.

“Unfortunately, this is something that happens in America,” Stewart said. “The nice thing is nobody got hurt. People were shaken.”

Friday’s incident is an example of a bigger problem in Stewart’s opinion.

“My thoughts are basically we have too many guns,” he said. “People have fought after games for years. … It could happen in any school in the state of Washington and you wouldn’t be surprised. “

For Thomas, the unsettling end to Friday’s contest brought back memories of a game he attended about 25 years ago when he was living in Los Angeles.

Thomas, then a ninth-grader, was in the stands with his family, watching his older brother’s game.

Without warning, gunshots were heard and Thomas and his family dove for cover.

“It was exactly the same type of scenario,” Thomas said.

The difference was that the perpetrators were shooting at the players on the field, Thomas said. The violence stemmed from a dispute between rival Los Angeles gangs.

“I was in the stands and my dad was covering us, making sure we were safe and that the coast was clear,” Thomas said.

Thomas added that he saw similar actions from Kamiak and Mariner parents on Friday night.

“A lot of parents were doing that for other people’s kids,” Thomas said. “It spoke to our community and how this community handles adversity.”

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