Youth soccer players, families run in panic after gun scare at Newton Athletic Park
RCMP arrest a man and say weapon was an imitation gun, some teams too scared to play Sunday
The coach of a girls soccer team said more than 500 people stampeded in panic at a Surrey athletic park after a gun scare Saturday.
Mike Shannon coaches an under-11 girls team from Bowen Island — the Asteroids — and was at New Athletic Park in Surrey to participate in a youth soccer tournament sponsored by the Vancouver Whitecaps and Adidas.
Just before 2 p.m. he says people around the park started yelling and telling people to run.
"I've never seen so many people running and hurdling fences," he said. "It was just total terror. It just looked like an absolute stampede."
Shannon said people ended up getting trampled by others; elderly people tried to run away as well from a threat that was unclear at the time.
He says some people thought there was an armed person at the fields. Others said there was a gas leak from one of the food trucks at the event.
Police say they received a reports of a male with a firearm. Officers located a suspect and arrested him.
RCMP says there was no risk to the public and the weapon was an imitation.
Shannon says, however, there could have been significant injuries. He saw one girl drop her cellphone, bend down to pick it up and then get trampled.
"She was just getting [pushed] over and kneed in the head," he said. "Seniors who shouldn't have been running, were running."
Shannon's two elderly parents were at the field along with a brother who cannot walk due to a stroke.
He and his father tried to carry him away from the field during the panic and Shannon says others thought they were carrying a wounded person.
"That actually caused more chaos," said Shannon.
Too scared to play
He said many of the girls on his team are scared and unsure if they want to continue with the tournament on Sunday.
"A lot of scared girls," he said about his team, which has 13 players at the tournament. "They shouldn't have to be scared playing a sport in a public park."
Police are asking anyone with information to contact Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or, if they wish to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.