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‘Everyone started ducking’: Three shot, wounded outside Nationals Park

VIDEO | 01:35
Raw video: Gunfire outside Nationals Park in D.C.

The Padres’ game at Washington on Saturday night was halted in the middle of the sixth inning after three people were shot and wounded outside the ballpark.

There was an exchange of gunfire between two cars, according to Ashan Benedict, the Metropolitan Police Department’s executive assistant police chief. One of the people shot was a woman attending the game who was struck outside the stadium, he said. Her injuries weren’t considered life-threatening.

Two people who were in one of the cars walked into a local hospital with gunshot wounds and were being questioned by investigators, Benedict said, and the extent of their injuries wasn’t immediately clear. Investigators still were trying to locate the second vehicle in the shooting.

The sound of gunshots caused confusion and panic on the field and in the stadium.

Max Muncy homered twice as the Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 9-2. Outfielder Mookie Betts left with what L.A. said was irritation in his right hip.

As Padres reliever Pierce Johnson was running in from the bullpen and umpires conferred with the head groundskeeper at Nationals Park, shots were heard.

Crew chief Mark Carlson suddenly motioned for Padres players to leave the field and walked to the visitors’ dugout where he appeared to explain to manager Jayce Tingler and others what was happening as he pointed in the direction of the shots.

At the same time, fans began running out of the gate beyond center field while others ran into the stands from the area near where the shots were heard loudest.

“It was just a chaotic scene,” Carlson told the Associated Press. “We heard what sounded like rapid gunfire. We didn’t know where it was coming from.”

As they left the field, players heard fans yelling to get on the ground.

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Padres reliever Craig Stammen, who had pitched the fifth inning, was still in the dugout when umpires instructed everyone to get off the field.

“They were yelling, ‘Get back in, get back in, go down there,’ ” he recalled.

Players congregated in the tunnel and batting cage area between the dugout and clubhouse. It became clear there had been a shooting, but there was no certainty where it had occurred.

“Then it became, ‘How can we get all the families down here?’ ” Stammen said. “Then it was more like, not panic but a sense of urgency. Once we got the families down there, by then they had the situation under control.”

Spectators stand in the visiting team dugout during a stoppage in play in the sixth inning July 17, 2021.
Spectators stand in the visiting team’s dugout during a stoppage in play at the Nationals-Padres game.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)

Just a couple of minutes later, there was another loud bang and people all over the stadium began scurrying and ducking. There were yells for people to take cover.

Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. ran onto the field, followed by at least two teammates. They sprinted down the third base line and grabbed family members from the stands and ran with them back toward the dugout.

The exodus onto the field continued, as dozens of clearly scared fans were let onto the field and ran to the Padres dugout. It appeared Padres third baseman Manny Machado was among those facilitating fans leaving the stands and moving to shelter.

A short while later, an announcement over the public address system informed fans “the incident has been reported to be outside the stadium” and urged fans to remain inside the ballpark. Fans later were told they could exit gates beyond the outfield.

More than two dozen police cars, ambulances and fire engines were on the street outside the third base side of the stadium and a police helicopter hovered overhead.

Alex Kirkwood, a tech consultant from San Diego, was sitting along the third base line at Nationals Park when the incident broke out.

“All of a sudden there were gunshots. I said, ‘Is that real?’ People began to duck behind their seats,” he told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “There were little kids in front of me. They had been trying to get cotton candy before this happened. I took one of them by the hand.

“I looked out on the field and saw Fernando Tatis run down the third base line, grab two kids and take them to the dugout. Then he went back and got two more.”

The Dodgers have issues with their rotation and the offense has been inconsistent. Still, they open play after the All-Star break only two games out of first.

Jeff Le, a D.C. resident and Padres fan, said he and a friend were sitting behind home plate. Le stood up to get some water when he heard two to three “pops.”

“I turn around and people are running and I don’t understand what’s happening,” he told the Union-Tribune. “Then security was telling everyone to go back and shelter in place, and a couple minutes later you hear police, sirens and helicopter.”

Le said the “pops” sounded like they came from inside, which confused people.

“I think that was sort of what caused such alarm, and when people were leaving the general feeling was a little bit of confusion. It was sort of like, before you knew it, the game was over. … I think they handled the situation as best they could.”

He made it back to his home safely, he said.

Raul Villarreal, a downtown San Diego resident, said he was in Washington this weekend with a friends to celebrate his bachelor party. They were sitting about four rows behind the Padres dugout when they heard multiple gunshots and took cover.

“We were confused. We didn’t know if it was a shooting or a construction machine,” Villareal told the Union-Tribune. “The moment I understood that something wasn’t right was when I saw the players ran to the dugout. We were afraid that a stampede would breakout and then everybody started shouting, ‘take cover, take cover, take cover.’ ”

Arman Ramnath, 27, from nearby Arlington, Va., and a recent law school graduate, said he and a friend were sitting in the third base side of the stadium when they heard what sounded like fireworks.

“We weren’t sure what it was. Then everyone started ducking,” Ramnath said.

Ramnath said he and his friend ended hiding behind the seats for five or more minutes. After a while people started getting up and leaving, he said, but stadium announcements told fans to wait. Eventually they were allowed to leave.

“It felt very surreal. I wasn’t really sure how to react,” Ramnath said. “I mean, you hear about it but you never expect it to be something that could affect you.”

The game, which the Padres led 8-4, will be resumed at 10:05 a.m. PT Sunday. The series finale, originally scheduled for that time, will follow.

The Padres, who scored in eight of nine innings in a 24-8 victory on Friday, scored in the first three innings of Saturday’s game and led 5-1 when Ryan Zimmerman got the Nationals to 5-4 with a three-run homer off Blake Snell in the bottom of the third.

Snell pitched through the fourth, and Craig Stammen threw a scoreless fifth before the Padres scored three runs in the top of the sixth. Tatis had four hits and Machado, Jake Cronenworth and Tommy Pham had two apiece.

Neither team held its usual postgame media availability after the incident.

Acee writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Union-Tribune staff writers Tammy Murga and Gary Robbins and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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