Rifle displayed at Utah youth soccer tournament causes panic

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker speaks at the kickoff event to celebrate the future site of the Salt Lake Regional Athletic Complex on November 5, 2010.

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker speaks at the kickoff event to celebrate the future site of the Salt Lake Regional Athletic Complex on November 5, 2010. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Salt Lake police say they’re still trying to sort out what happened during a youth soccer tournament over the weekend in which a parent displayed a rifle, causing a huge panic among players and spectators who ran for cover.

On Saturday, at a U.S. Youth Soccer tournament held at the Salt Lake City Regional Athletic Complex, 2280 N. Rose Park Lane, either two parents, or two groups of parents, got into an argument, said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Mark Wian.

Several people on social media claimed the argument was between two men with ties to the same girl on one of the teams.

The argument escalated, resulting in one man going to his car, according to witnesses, and getting a rifle, Wian said.

Other details such how the man displayed or held the rifle, whether he pointed it at anyone, whether he brought it onto the playing fields or if he remained in the parking lot, were still under investigation Monday. No shots were fired, no one was injured and no arrests were made.

The incident caused a huge panic, with some people screaming “active shooter” and parents and players running to take cover behind cars in the parking lot, according to several witnesses who claimed to have either been at the tournament or had friends who were there. Some people scaled fences and took shelter in the homes of random residents, according to social media posts.

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“It was pretty traumatizing,” said Megan Perkins, a parent who was in her car outside of the complex when it happened. “My kid is pretty shaken.

“It’s sad that it’s over a freaking soccer game, it’s come to that,” she continued. “I think we do need to realize that kids sports are just that — they’re a game, and there’s kids involved.”

“Guns have no place at youth sporting events. Unbelievable,” another woman, who had a daughter playing in the same tournament, commented.

Wian said 911 dispatchers began receiving calls at 2:32 p.m. The first officers arrived at 2:47 p.m. and contact with the man with the gun was made at 2:51 p.m.

The incident prompted U.S. Youth Soccer to issue a statement in response.

“We are both saddened by the traumatic experience for all involved, but also extremely proud of staff and volunteers who worked quickly to help local authorities defuse the situation, remove the individual(s) involved and assuage the concerns of teams and players. The team associated with the individuals involved has been expelled from the remainder of this weekend’s event,” the soccer association stated.

“We are disheartened that the actions of certain individuals have made many of those who love the game question their safety. Our priority is to provide a safe game-day environment, but the limits of our influence are clear when individuals choose anger over safety. Sadly, we live in a world where a disagreement can lead …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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