Frantic Fans Storm Dugout at Washington Nationals Game During Shooting Outside the Stadium

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The message on the Nationals Park scoreboard alerting fans to stay in the stadium.

Some didn’t think anything of it, while others thought it might’ve been preparation for a postgame fireworks show. Little did they realize there was a shooting taking place outside the stadium that eventually caused chaos at Saturday’s Washington Nationals baseball game.

Fans stormed the dugouts for shelter and players bolted from the field. Three fans were injured in the shooting that took place outside Nationals Park and forced the postponement of the game between the Nationals and the San Diego Padres.

The Washington Nationals game was halted mid-game because of a shooting

Frantic Fans Storm Dugout at Washington Nationals Game During Shooting Outside the Stadium
An alert for fans on the scoreboard after what is believed to be shots heard outside the stadium during a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 17, 2021, in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

Saturday’s game between the Nationals and the Padres was suspended in the sixth inning because of a shooting that took place outside Nationals Park and caused chaos inside it. According to ESPN, Metropolitan Police Department’s executive assistant police chief, Ashan Benedict, said there was an exchange of gunfire by people in two cars. Three people were injured.

The incident happened as the Padres headed for the field to begin the bottom of the sixth inning. The gunshots echoed throughout the stadium, causing a wild scene.

Ted Borenstein was enjoying the game with his girlfriend when he heard two pops. He thought nothing of it, believing it was practice for a fireworks show.

He knew something was up when he was Padres All-Star Fernando Tatis “bolt from the field.”

The Washington Nationals made an announcement during the game

At first, the Nationals posted a message on the scoreboard to ask fans to remain in the stadium. Shortly after, the team tweeted, “A shooting has been reported outside of the Third Base Gate at Nationals Park. Fans are encouraged to exit the ballpark via the CF and RF gates at this time.”

According to The Washington Post, Karl Frisch was sitting in Section 306, a seat that overlooked the area of the shooting.

“We heard probably six to eight pops in relative succession in two groups, and first thought it was a firecracker or something in the stairwell nearby,” Frisch said. “And it was pretty clear almost immediately that it wasn’t, because park staff were moving around very concerned. And within like a minute of that we peeked over the railing. We saw a group of officers around a person who was laying on the ground.”

Some fans ducked behind tables and chairs, while others bolted into the dugouts for shelter.

“Everyone around us was hiding under the bleachers or under the seats, and kids around us were crying,” fan A.J. Pillai, 24, said. “I mean, it just felt really real.”

Players scrambled to find family members after hearing of the shooting

Alaina Rodriguez, 29, was sitting in Section 115. She got an up-close view of the players during the craziness.

“I grabbed a child in front of me because the lady in front of me didn’t really know what was happening,” Rodriguez said, according to The Washington Post. “… We were down for a while, and then we saw action going on in center field, and it just kept going around the stadium. Then we see (Tatis), and he’s out here, and he tells everybody, ‘Go, just go.’ I don’t know if they have family or what was going on out here. They told everybody to go.”

Tatis and fellow Padres players Manny Machado, Wil Myers, and Jurickson Profar pulled family members and fans out of the stands, taking them into the dugout.

Ann Plaza said she and her group got on the field and made their way into the Nationals dugout. Then they made their way to the clubhouse near manager Dave Martinez’s office.

“He was there, checking on everyone,” Plaza said of the manager. “A security guard came and asked if we were family. He said, ‘Yes, they are family — they’re our fans.’ The guard then asked if we were players’ family, and then he said no. They then ushered us into the area right outside, and we hung out there until it was safe to leave.”

The game will be resumed Sunday afternoon with the Padres leading 8-4. The regularly scheduled game will follow.

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