Police officials initially tweeted that there were four people they thought were wounded in the incident but later updated the number to three. Police were trying to determine what led to the gunfire but noted that they believe it was unrelated to the game.
Following the shooting, the players were pulled from the field and fans scrambled for cover, hiding behind their seats or retreating from the concourse. Others sprinted for the field or the exits. According to multiple people at the game, there were shouts of a “shooter” that led to scrambles all around the park, from the first-level seats near the third base gate to sections of the upper deck.
About five minutes into that hectic period, when no one was sure where the danger was centered, the public address announcer advised fans to stay inside the stadium until the situation was resolved, assuring that it was beyond the park’s walls. That’s when a large number of people rushed toward the dugouts. Most were sent back to the stands by security guards, and the park was cleared in a calm fashion by 10:15 p.m., about 45 minutes after the shooting.
From her seat behind home plate, Christine Welton watched in shock as fans sprinted toward the gates. She figured the safest thing to do was stay put.
“But once people were stampeding behind us, we immediately got down,” said Welton, 18, of those moments in the middle of the sixth inning. “We didn’t know what was happening.”
“It was just a chaotic scene,” umpire crew chief Mark Carlson told the Associated Press. “We heard what sounded like rapid gunfire. We didn’t know where it was coming from.”
The game was suspended and is set to resume at 1:05 p.m. Sunday with the Padres leading 8-4. Once the stadium was cleared, a helicopter circled above and there were a handful of police cars at the corner of South Capitol and O streets, with officers gathering eyewitness statements.
When the shooting occurred, Alaina Rodriguez, 29, and Zerik Hann, 28, of Chambersburg, Pa., said fans in Section 115 “started hitting the deck.”
“I grabbed a child in front of me because the lady in front of me didn’t really know what was happening,” Rodriguez said. “... 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 [Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.], 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, but they told everybody to go.”
Tatis and Padres teammates Manny Machado, Wil Myers and Jurickson Profar pulled family members and fans out of the stands to find safety in their dugout, where at least 50 people gathered, Hann said. Video posted online showed Patrick Corbin, the left-handed pitcher who started the game for the Nationals, roaming the concourse, his uniform untucked, while talking on the phone. People speed-walked by him without stopping.
Ann Plaza, a fan from McLean, said her group went on the field and through the Nationals’ dugout before ending up in the clubhouse near Manager Dave Martinez’s office.
“He was there, checking on everyone,” Plaza said of Martinez. “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.”
In Section 117, Ross Callahan, 25, and A.J. Pillai, 24, had no clue there was a shooting until a woman walked down the aisle and told everyone to “get down.” Callahan described the aftermath of the shooting as “pandemonium.” In Section 113, Emmanuel Suarez, 20, saw a woman break her nose while trying to duck behind a seat.
“Everyone around us was hiding under the bleachers or under the seats, and kids around us were crying,” Pillai said. “I mean, it just felt really real.”
David Lobe and his daughter ran out of the stadium immediately after the shots were fired. They went to Due South, a restaurant a few blocks from where the shooting took place, and were told to stay away from the windows. Staff had about 20 people huddled in a back hallway.
Karl Frisch, a fan in Section 306, was in a seat that, if he turned away from the field, overlooked where the shooting took place.
“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 and saw a group of officers around a person who was laying on the ground.”
“I think anybody who lives in the United States and is at an event where there are lots of people and gunfire, you just kind of worry that this is one of those moments,” Frisch added. “It wasn’t great being separated from my partner for the few minutes we were separated, when everybody started panicking and running out of the 400 seats and down the inclines, the ramps, as opposed to the stairs or the escalator. ... So I was nervous for those few minutes.”
On Sunday morning, the Nationals tweeted a message of thanks to fans for handling themselves “in a very admirable manner.” The tweet concluded with: “Davey Martinez said it best—our fans are our family. Thank you.”
Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Peter Hermann, Martin Weil and Sam Fortier contributed to this report.