CONYERS — “There is no time for pranks about gunfire!” someone wrote in a Facebook post about the apparently false claims of shots fired at the Heritage/Salem football game Friday night. “A lot of people young, old, handicapped could have been hurt! Gun violence has been an all-time high in the news locally and nationwide. Playing pranks is not an option! I was there and it wasn’t a joke when families and friends running to make sure loved ones are safe and they were in tears.”
Reports of shots being fired at the Heritage/Salem football game Friday night led to panic and the evacuation of the stands at Evans Memorial Stadium at Heritage High by the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office and school system officials, and eventually the game being called early in the third quarter with Heritage leading 18-0.
No guns or evidence of gun shots were found and both the Sheriff’s Office and school system have stated the claims were false and are investigating to determine who made them.
Citizen Sports Editor Colin Hubbard was in the press box at the time and described the scene of people leaving the stadium as chaotic.
“My observation would be that it was very disorderly how the crowd moved out,” said Hubbard. “People were running across the field towards the exits. I was in the press box, so I can’t say if there was genuine fear involved, because I’ve heard it was a big joke, but I can say it was very chaotic for a 5-minute time period. Happened about 2-3 minutes into the third quarter. The P.A. guy eventually came over the stadium speakers and said ‘There is no danger, but we are evacuating the stands.’ Everything calmed down after that and they called the game about 20-25 minutes after that. I’d never seen anything like it, ever.”
Comments from the Facebook pages of both Heritage High School and Rockdale County Public Schools reflect the fear parents had and the anger that something like this took place.
“Was so scared, lost my kids from all the people running out the stands, panic could not find them! Then everyone taking cover,” said one Facebook post.
“When my boys went to games like this I was in the stands and walked around every 20 minutes to lay my eyes on them and whoever they hung around. Definitely agree no more dropping them off,” said another.
“Literally police at every corner, concession stand and all in the stands and they still act a fool,” a third commented.
“As much as we love to go n watch and spend time with u at the games I’m gonna say tonight will be the last one we attend! Gotta keep them babies safe! Thx for having us home early! Hope nobody got hurt,” expressed a fourth person.
Thank the lord this was just a hoax and these kids were not in immediate danger,” read one post. “Thank you to all law enforcement that came so quick and kept my family safe.”
“Jokes can be just as dangerous because the fear is the same,” said another. “Hope kids that started this mess are punished to the fullest.”