Editor’s note: The video in the story may be disturbing to some viewers.
LUMBERTON, N.C. (WBTW) — A woman suffered “life-threatening” injuries Wednesday night after being shot at a Lumberton Junior High School football game, according to the Lumberton Police Department.
Police were called just before 8 p.m. to Lumberton Senior High School during a junior high school football game and found a 41-year-old woman with a gunshot wound in the parking lot, according to police.
The game was between St. Pauls Middle School and Lumberton Junior High for the county championship.
Video taken by Don Weller shows football players running off the field after shots can be heard in the background. The chaos began during what appears to be a trophy presentation.
“I think my fight or flight kicked in for me and you know how a lot of people have started to run and my brain told me to run too, then my feet didn’t cooperate and I ended up falling and that’s when Bobby came in and kind of guided me over the fence and made me stay down to the ground, which would’ve been the right think to do, you know, early on,” Weller said.
Weller is a teacher at St. Pauls Middle School with 27 years of experience. He said Wednesday night was his worst day on the job and the only time he’s ever felt unsafe on school grounds.
“Pretty sad for the kids I know, that would’ve been a nice moment for them to get the trophy and you know they look forward to that moment,” Weller said. “They worked hard for that moment, you know, it’s sad that moment taken away like that.”
“It was overwhelming,” said Bobby Holloman, a 7th grader on the St. Pauls football team. “I just thought about getting to safety. Anything can happen in just a minute and you’re not promised tomorrow.”
The woman was flown to a hospital with what police said were life-threatening injuries. On Thursday morning, police said the victim was in “critical but stable” condition.
Bystanders told police they heard multiple gunshots and said there was a suspect dressed in black clothing.
“It’s sad that he has the mindset to shoot at a middle school game, at a school,” Holloman said.
“It’s sad they would bring that near a school, is really the truth,” Weller said. “Honestly I’m not one for guns, and I think that we’re seeing them way too much and this is starting to impact our lives in too much of a way.”
The Public Schools of Robeson County released the following statement:
“The Public Schools of Robeson County takes the senseless matter that occurred Wednesday evening in the parking lot during the middle school football championship between St. Pauls Middle and Lumberton Jr. High teams at Lumberton High School very seriously.
“‘We’re not going to tolerate that kind of behavior on our campuses whether it occurs during the school day or after,” Superintendent Freddie Williamson said in a statement. “Safety is our top priority as we will place additional measures necessary to ensure the safety of our students and the public on our campuses during games.’
“A meeting took place Thursday morning by PSRC leadership that concluded in the decision to add an additional safety feature to campuses during home sporting events. The district will soon begin leasing additional lighting to be placed on campuses especially in parking lot areas at middle and high schools. The additional lighting will add to security including the preexisting protocols of security checks at entrances and a police presence at the game.
“The proper safety protocols were followed by staff during the incident. Law enforcement agencies also responded quickly.
“‘We appreciate the swift action of law enforcement agencies as they responded and worked to investigate and secure the area,’ Williamson said.
“The investigation continues and investigating agencies include the Lumberton Police Department, Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina ALE and ATF. The district yields additional additional information regarding the investigation to those authorities.
“‘We ask the community to join us in prayer for the families of those affected including spectators and students. We also ask for prayers on behalf of the victim who was injured,’ Williamson said.
“Extra support will be provided for students and staff at St. Pauls Middle and Lumberton Jr. High Schools today.
“Plans are in place to properly recognize championship winners on the St. Pauls Middle School football team at a later date.
“‘We want to be clear. We are not going to give in to evil and we are not going to give in to fear,’ Williamson said.
“‘Last night should have been a moment our students will remember as they completed the championship and made lifelong memories with their peers. That moment was wrongfully taken from those students and will instead serve as a reminder of how far we as a society has fallen,’ he said.
“‘But PSRC will move forward. We will move forward together and we ask the community to support us and join hands with us as we recover from this senseless act of violence,’ Williamson said.”
The Board of Education Chairman John Simmons also released a statement:
“We are asking our students and community members if they see something to say something to law enforcement members and school officials so that such acts can be prevented.”
Additional counselors were made available at both schools on Thursday.
The Lumberton Police Department is asking anyone with information to call the department at 910-671-3845 or the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office at 910-761-3170 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Count on News13 for updates.