Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields called a weekend shooting near a high school football stadium that left two juveniles injured “very disturbing.”
“Regardless of whether the shooting happened inside an Atlanta Public Schools facility or later on a city street, we all have a solemn responsibility to care for our children and ensure to the best of our collective abilities that they are shielded from this kind of violence by providing the appropriate level of security,” Shields said in a statement released Monday.
The strong comments come just days after a 12-year-old was taken to a hospital in critical condition after being shot twice near Lakewood Stadium.
A scrimmage game was being played between George Washington Carver and Benjamin E. Mays high schools Saturday in the stadium on Claire Street, AJC.com previously reported. About 9:30 p.m., police were called to Olive Street near the stadium about two people being shot.
Investigators believe the incident started as a fight between people who were leaving the game, Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said in a statement.
Asaiah Payton, 12, was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, Campos said. He is in stable condition. A 16-year-old, Damean Spear, was also hurt in the shooting. Police said he was taken to Atlanta Medical Center by his mother and was released the same night after being treated for a gunshot wound.
Atlanta police said Payton and Spear are students in the Atlanta Public Schools and Fulton County School systems, respectively. AJC.com has reached out to both school districts for confirmation.
Investigators are still trying to learn more about what happened, Campos said.
“Right now, it is unclear if Asaiah and Damean were involved in the fight, or were uninvolved bystanders struck by gunfire intended for someone else,” he said.
Campos said the fight that led to the shooting might have stemmed from a series of disputes that broke out inside the stadium. Police are checking for surveillance video that might have captured the shooting, he said.
No arrests have been made and no suspects have been identified, Campos said. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact police.
It’s the only time the two high school rivals are scheduled to meet this season. Carver’s next game is against Arabia Mountain at 7 p.m. Saturday. Mays will face Kell at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The shooting came just five years after a fight led to shots fired at a game between the same schools at the same stadium. Hundreds of people were at the Mays vs. Carver game Oct. 24, 2014, when gunshots rang out, AJC.com previously reported.
An off-duty police officer who heard the shots found a 17-year-old boy with a gun. As the situation escalated, the officer shot the teen in the arm.
The teen, later identified as Mays High School student Eugene Brantley, was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, obstruction, reckless conduct and carrying a weapon on school property.
Police believed other students may have been involved in the altercation. Three guns were found at the scene.
The incident — and several others that had taken place during high school football games — spurred APS to tighten security during games. Fans were screened with metal-detecting wands and additional uniformed police officers were present.
“I know there’s a lot of work to do, but it is essential that every community and every cluster has the confidence that when they come to an event for Atlanta Public Schools ... that they can enjoy themselves without being in fear,” Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said in the wake of the shootings.
It’s unclear if any additional safety measures will be put into place at future sporting events. Atlanta Public Schools told AJC.com on Sunday it is deferring all questions about the most recent shooting to Atlanta police.
“We simply have to do better to identify potential issues at these events and work together to try to prevent them,” Shields said. “Our children deserve better.”