Two men were shot Sunday morning during youth football games outside Benton Middle School, creating a chaotic scene as coaches and parents tried to protect children from gunfire.
The shooter remained on the loose Sunday afternoon, and police said they were still trying to determine a motive.
Shots rang out about 10:25 a.m. outside the school at 7411 Hoadly Road in central Prince William County, with hundreds of people in the fields for youth flag football games scheduled under the 703 United Youth Sports league from 9 a.m. through 2:15 p.m. The players ranged in age from 5 to 12 years old.
Coaches scrambled to keep children safe, witnesses said, with some running for a wood line to hide.
“We were at the bottom of the hill practicing,” one witness said. “We heard three shots, everybody froze and then we quickly ran to the woods.” Coaches and parents were directing children to take cover there as police began to arrive.
Other witnesses said children were frightened and traumatized, but none were physically injured. The league’s coach, Joe Blount, declined to comment when reached by phone Sunday.
In a statement posted on Facebook Sunday afternoon, 703 United Sports thanked adults who rendered aid to the victim and “were able to quickly get children to safety until first responders arrived.”
“We want to be clear that 703 United Youth Sports and its affiliates condemn violence of any kind, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and victims of today’s senseless incident,” the statement read.
A Fairfax County police helicopter was called to help search for the gunman and medivac chopper to fly one of the victims to the hospital.
Police are still trying to determine what led up to the shooting.
Prince William County Coles District Supervisor Yesli Vega posted on Facebook Sunday morning, asking residents in the area to stay in their homes.
“Our office is in contact with authorities and monitoring the situation closely,” she wrote. “For those who reside near Benton Middle School, please stay in your homes until we have further updates.”
Police later said on Twitter the scene was secure.
Prince William County Schools said on Twitter they were aware and monitoring the events at a “community use event” at the school.
Sunday’s shooting comes after another very public shooting at the Woodbridge Kiwanis Club carnival at Gar-Field High School on April 15. A 14-year-old girl suffered non-life threatening injuries during the incident, which caused mass chaos outside the school on Smoketown Road. Police have not announced any arrests in the case.
Police are seeking the public’s help in finding this morning’s gunman, who was Black with a medium complexion, about 5 foot 6 to 5 foot 10 and had a thin build.
“Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by this incident and we are asking the community for help in providing any information that will further the investigation, please call our Tip Line at 703-792-7000 or submit a tip online to pwcva.gov/policetip,” police said in a social media post.
This is a breaking news alert. Check back for updates.