ST. LOUIS • A football game at Sumner High School was briefly halted when several gunshots were fired near the field there Friday night.
The shots rang out shortly after 8 p.m., right after the second-half kickoff of a game between Gateway STEM and Vashon high schools and prompted spectators and players to seek cover. Some players dropped to the field.
Vashon, the home team in the game, does not have a field of its own. Sumner High is at 4248 Cottage Avenue in The Ville neighborhood.
The shots came from Kennerly and Billups avenues, near the field. The shots were so close that witnesses said they could smell the gunpowder. Police don’t think the shots were directed toward anyone at the game.
After a few minutes of players and spectators ducking and covering, coaches and officials met on the field and decided to resume play.
Vashon football player Levi Stockard said hearing gunshots on field was scary, but he also said, "You're almost immune."
Gateway's Fabian Harris said of the gunshots: "It's really a shame because it's not a testament to this league or this area at all."
Police cars circled the area shortly after the gunshots.
“We were so glad the police were here. They were like Johnny on the spot,” said Vashell Williams, 47, whose nephew was playing in the game. “People want to talk about them being bad, but they were right here.”
It appeared most fans stayed for the rest of the game.
Around the time of the shooting, a man in his 20s was found in a vehicle, about a mile and a half from the school, at Shreve and Natural Bridge avenues, with a gunshot wound behind his ear, police said. He was taken to a hospital. This was probably the result of a rolling gunbattle between two vehicles, police said, but it was unclear if it was related to the shooting near the school. The wounded man was not being cooperative, police said.
Tiffany Spain, 29, of St. Louis, was with her husband, Brennan, and daughters Logynn, 4, and Kyndall, 8, watching the game when the shots were fired. She is a graduate of Gateway and he’s a graduate of Vashon, so they were there to enjoy a good-natured family rivalry.
Spain said she first heard faint gunshots and started walking with her girls toward an exit gate for safety. As the shots got closer, they dropped to the field. They were on the field two or three minutes, listening to more than a dozen shots, until the gunfire stopped, she said. The girls were scared but did not ask questions about what was happening, she said.
“They just wanted to make sure Mommy was around and Mommy was there,” she said.
She was disappointed that what was supposed to be a good night for family football took a scary turn.
“It turned out to be okay, besides that,” Spain said. “It seems like you can’t go anywhere and be safe: a football game, church. Kids are getting shot in their houses. It’s ridiculous.”
David Carson and Lilly Fowler of the Post-Dispatch and Adam Zuvanich of stlhighschoolsports.com contributed to this report.