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Youth Coaches Voice Concerns After Gunfire at Games

Andy Berg

Youth coaches in Jacksonville, Fla., are calling for better security at games after an incident involving gunfire during a youth football game in Mandarin.

A Jacksonville councilman called for a discussion about park safety Monday night at City Hall, which was attended by a number of youth football coaches.

“It’s only happening at games where a whole bunch of people congregate at,” said Michael Newby, according to New4JaX.

“Nothing is going to be done until a child dies,” said Shawn Fountain, athletic director with Westside Football League.

News4Jax reports two incidents involving shots fired during Jacksonville-area youth football games in the past year. In October a man was shot and killed during a game in Arlington.

Another incident happened on March 14 when two men got into an argument and one pulled a gun and fired two shots. There were roughly 500 players and spectators present at the Mandarin Athletic Association football jamboree.

“Once everyone realized it was actually gunshots, that’s when everyone started to take cover and direct all of the kids to get on the ground,” Fountain said.

Coaches at the meeting say a police presence is needed at games, and they want funding to ensure parks are better lit and have secure fences.

Park availability is also an issue, with some parks requiring permits to be used.

“There are a lot of parks that they can use, so they need to allow them to have them,” said Beigard Brown, a football coach.

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