Wednesday, August 30th 2023, 4:33 pm
Families, students and the community are still continuing to navigate and process the deadly shooting that happened Friday night at the Choctaw-Mid Del football game.
Sarah Coquat was ecstatic, watching her son run out on the varsity field for the first time. This night was the first game of the season and youth football night.
For Layla Cochran it was the first game of her junior year. She is on the pom team, and her group performed during the game and cheered on the sidelines. The cheering soon turned to panic.
"We were all waiting to hear the fight song happen, so we were facing the crowd but also the field and then we heard the shots, so we didn't know what to do so we dropped everything, and we ran," Cochran said.
Layla described it as sheer chaos-- until she was reunited with family. "And then my dad came in and he was throwing stuff around screaming my name trying to find me and as soon as he found me, he threw some stuff behind the fence so that if anything did happen again, I would be safe and made me sit there,” Cochran said.
"My husband immediately throws me down and we realize we don't have our small children and at this point everyone is running off the field, everyone is running under the bleachers, and we are screaming trying to find our young children," Coquat said.
Her son Jaxon was able to find and protect his younger brother. "He actually had taken off his football pads and put them on his little brother and hustled them into the locker room," Coquat said.
Bravery from so many. Choctaw strong --now the theme to recognize those who stepped up. "That is Choctaw strong...That is what I want people to see as Choctaw strong is those kids literally being a shield for children below them in gun fire and doing it without hesitation,” Coquat said.
As we move forward, there is no doubt this school and community will be stronger than ever before. "It just means our community is coming together and we are getting stronger and stronger as time goes on,” Cochran said.
The Del City Eagles were in Choctaw Friday night to face the Yellowjackets in Week 0 of the high school football season.
During the final three minutes of the third quarter, gunshots were heard from the visitor’s side of the field, and crowds were seen fleeing from the stands.
Multiple video broadcasts from the game showed players and fans running away from the Del City side of the stadium after at least two gunshots.
"You had a bang, and then a bang, bang immediately afterwards,” recalled Jared Johnson, a member of the Choctaw band. “And then the 5 to 7 that went out right after were all one after the other."
“I remember hearing someone say, 'Oh, my God. They're shooting,' and that panic started to really set in and everyone just went," Johnson said.
"We heard the gunshots, and everybody started running,” said Choctaw parent Allison Yarbrough.
Several witnesses reached out to News 9 to share their stories of those who helped lead people to safety.
“We just all laid down like this, side by side, ready to run,” Kieson Iwerson demonstrated on a hill adjacent to Choctaw’s practice field. "They were just coming from all over. Everyone was flooding the field."
Iwerson was leading the charge of students through the woods to safety.
A 13-year-old said football players helped keep her safe during the chaos that erupted.
"A football player came and grabbed me and one of my friends, and took us into the locker room," she said. "And set us down and told us, ‘It’s going to be ok. Calm down. You’ll find your parents.’”
She said the player who helped her was Choctaw's Juju Smith. All the players played a role in helping others get to safety, she said.
“The football players didn’t worry about their safety. They were worrying about elderly safety, kids’ safety, and adult safety," she said. "They would run out of the locker room, after grabbing two or three kids, putting them in there, and then run out and grab more people.”
The News 9 team traveled to Choctaw High School and OU Health Saturday morning to review the aftermath after Friday night's shooting.
News 9 Addie Crawford traveled to Choctaw High School Saturday morning to review the scene and found marching band equipment, personal belongings left after people fled from the stadium from the gunshots.
State Superintendent Ryan Walters released the following statement Saturday:
Last night’s events in Choctaw is tragic. Violence of any kind has no place at our school events, and anyone who would threaten our kids must be swiftly brought to justice.
OSDE stands ready to assist them with all available resources and I have spoken to Choctaw Superintendent David Reid and Mid-Del Superintendent Rick Cobb this morning to offer OSDE’s full support and assistance.
I hope all Oklahomans will join my family and me in prayer for all those affected by senseless acts.
Mid-Del City Schools released a statement confirming the victim was a Midwest City student:
Dear Bomber Families:
It is with deep sadness that we inform you of the death of one of our Bombers who was in attendance during the Del City at Choctaw High School football game on Friday, August 25. There are no words to adequately describe our sympathy for the family of our student. Additionally, we know that the coming days and weeks will be difficult for our students and staff. We will have grief counselors available for anyone needing to speak with someone.
Any time a student death occurs, reactions are varied. Please be alert for any of the following indications of grief
Physical - changes to sleep patterns or eating habits
Emotional - changes such as unusual fears, anger, worry or clinging
Social - loss of interest in usual activities.
Open communication between parents and children is very important. If you think your child is having a particularly difficult time dealing with this situation, please contact the school for assistance.
News 9 received a joint statement early Saturday morning from school officials in Del City and Choctaw:
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by tonight’s incident. Both districts are working jointly with the police presence from Choctaw, Del City, and Oklahoma County in an ongoing investigation. The police will provide further details as they become available.
David Reid, Superintendent Choctaw-Nicoma Park
Dr. Rick Cobb, Superintendent Mid-Del
Choctaw Mayor Chad Allcox released a statement on Saturday stating,
Last night our community experienced a horrific tragedy at Bill Jensen Field during the Del City vs. Choctaw high school football game in Choctaw, Oklahoma. On behalf of the city of Choctaw, our hearts and prayers are with the families of those who were killed or injured, students, coaches, families and first responders and all those who had to experience such a horrific event.
Thank you to the first responders, coaches, parents, and students who put their lives on the line to prevent this tragedy from escalating further, and in cases used their own bodies to shield others. Thank you to the supporting agencies who quickly responded.
As our community continues to heal, I am confident we will become closer, stronger and even more resilient because of the amazing people in and around the community. #prayforchoctaw, #prayfordelcity, #strongertogether, #choctawstrong
The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association released a statement Saturday morning.
The OSSAA is deeply saddened and concerned with the shootings that took place last night at high school football games in Oklahoma. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who was in attendance. We have offered our assistance and support to all the schools involved as they continue to gather details.
The superintendents for Choctaw-Nicoma Park and Mid-Del Schools joined News 9 Monday morning after a shooting at a high school football game left one person dead.
"At Midwest City High School, we lost a student," Mid-Del Superintendent Dr. Rick Cobb said. "I've lost count of how many school districts have offered to send counselors to help us out."
Both superintendents however praised the support from the community members when the shooting happened.
"This is a family, this is a close-knit community," CNP Superintendent David Reid said. "When shots rang out, everyone worked together for the safety of all."
Dr. Cobb also said he was proud to be part of a community that works together.
"I just want to say how proud I am of our whole community," Dr. Cobb said. "Our kids, our staff, the parents, businesses and churches jumping into the gap to help us."
The Choctaw Police Department is handling the investigation into the shooting that killed the 16-year-old Midwest City student. Officers said it's believed the incident started as an argument between two males on the visitor’s side of the field.
The Uvalde Foundation, a kids nonprofit organization, is offering a reward for anyone who may have info regarding the shooting.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office said they have opened an investigation into the incident where an off-duty Del City officer shot a 42-year-old man in the chest.
Sheriff Tommie Johnson with OCSO said "the Del City officer did not shoot the 16-year-old... Our investigation shows the Del City officer did shoot a 42-year-old in the chest... The officer perceived some sort of threat, but it is important to stress we are still very early on in the investigation and comment further on what the officer perceived."
Two officers were working off-duty at the game when the separate shootings occurred. Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave in relation to the officer-involved shooting incident, according to Berger. The other officer did not fire any gunshots, but was placed on leave to "decompress and also be ready to interview with the sheriff's office and cooperate fully," Berger said.
A teenager was arrested early Wednesday in connection to a deadly shooting Friday night at a high school football game in Choctaw.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office arrested a 15-year-old from Spencer at about 12:30 a.m. near Northeast 36th Street and North Midwest Boulevard, authorities said.
Shots were fired behind the visitor's side of the field during the third quarter of a game between the Yellowjackets and the Del City Eagles. Police said an argument between at least two teens led to the shooting.
The family of 16-year-old Cordea Carter identified him as the victim of the shooting. Carter was a junior at Midwest City High School.
Two other people, including a 42-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl were shot. Two others were injured trying to escape the melee that ensued after the shooting.
A Del City officer who was working off-duty security for the Mid-Del School District shot the 42-year-old man in the chest, authorities said. Carter's family said the 42-year-old man was trying to help break up the fight.
An Oklahoma County affidavit identified the suspect as Dayvion Hamilton, 15.
A witness identified a male in a gray hoodie as “Bullet,” and said the suspect approached Carter before the fight ensued. The witness said they heard the gunshots shortly after the fight began, according to the affidavit.
Surveillance video was obtained from the Choctaw High School weight room where the suspect was seen being treated for a head injury, the affidavit said.
An investigation identified Hamilton as the male, “Bullet,” who engaged in that altercation.
Hamilton was arrested on a second-degree murder complaint.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference Wednesday morning, confirming their warrant team along with several other agencies arrested the 15-year-old suspect.
Johnson said an arrest warrant was issued Tuesday, and the arrest was made without incident.
The sheriff’s office is leading the investigation into the shooting where an off-duty Del City Police officer shot a 42-year-old in the chest.
The Choctaw Police Department is handling the investigation into the shooting that killed 16-year-old Carter.
Johnson said "the Del City officer did not shoot the 16-year-old... Our investigation shows the Del City officer did shoot a 42-year-old in the chest... The officer perceived some sort of threat, but it is important to stress we are still very early on in the investigation and comment further on what the officer perceived."
Choctaw has postponed their upcoming football game, originally scheduled for Friday, Sept. 1.
Mid-Del Public Schools implemented new security measures this year for their home football games in an effort to keep students, their families and other school personnel safe.
Those measures include fans walking through a new weapon detection system before entering stadiums. Fans will not be able to re-enter the stadium if they leave.
Middle and high school students are required to wear an ID to the game. Middle and elementary school students must be with a guardian to enter the game.
No bags are allowed unless it is a clear plastic tote. Firearms, weapons and explosives are prohibited from Mid-Del Public School campuses.
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