By: Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 1, 2017
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- The first official high school football practice of the season. It's a day many in Valdosta wait for. However, it took an unexpected turn in the early moments of Tuesday when gunfire rang out.
It happened just outside Bazemore-Hayder Stadium, in the 1400-block of Williams Street, in the middle of Midnight Madness, a yearly traditions for players and fans.
Walking outside the stadium today, you could see around five gun shell casings.
The Wildcats football team rushed onto the bus just after midnight and the police continue to investigate.
"It's kind of frustrating because a lot of the perpetrators of these crimes are the same age group as the ones that are trying to better themselves," said Matt Varney, a Valdosta Police Officer.
The community was relieved to hear the players weren't in harms way. However, the school system is now bumping up future security.
By: Amy Robinson | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 1, 2017
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- A girl was injured in an overnight shooting outside of Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, where the Valdosta High Wildcats 'Midnight Madness' football practice was taking place.
At approximately 12:45 a.m. Tuesday, Valdosta Police officers were dispatched to the 1400 block of Williams Street after receiving a report of a juvenile being hit by gunfire.
The victim told first responders that while walking away from Bazemore-Hyder Stadium after attending one of the Valdosta High events that ended at midnight, she saw several subjects arguing and begin fighting. She said as she was trying to leave the area, she heard several gunshots. She said she immediately began running and then felt something strike her neck.
The girl was taken to the hospital with a superficial, non-life threatening injury to the neck. She has since been treated and released.
Police say it appears that the victim was unintentionally hit by the gunfire.
Police say, based on witness accounts, it appears that at some point in the evening, multiple subjects were involved in an argument that was broken up by off-duty police officers working the Valdosta High event.
Later in the evening, police say another altercation began that led to the shooting. Police believe all of the individuals involved knew each other and were not targeting bystanders.
The shooting occurred during the Wildcats' 'Midnight Madness' football practice, which got underway at 12 a.m. The practice was scheduled to end at 1:30 a.m., but was cut short due to the shooting.
Police say the investigation remains active and ongoing. Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Valdosta police.
By: Kristi Kopanis | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 1, 2017
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Shots were fired near Bazemore-Hyder Stadium early Tuesday as the Wildcats took part in 'Midnight Madness' football practice.
According to the Valdosta Police Department, the shooting happened around 12:45 a.m. at the intersection of E Brookwood Drive and Williams Street.
WCTV's Kristi Kopanis was at the stadium when the shooting was first reported.
Shots fired near Bazemore Hyder stadium during midnight madness football practice trying to get information at this point pic.twitter.com/MUiKoQbpbl— Kristi Kopanis (@Kristi_Kopanis) August 1, 2017
The Georgia High School Association does not allow teams to practice in full pads until August 1. At 12:00 a.m., the Wildcats suited up for 'Midnight Madness', marking their first official practice of the season and offering fans the first look at this year's team.
The practice was scheduled to end at 1:30 a.m., but was cut short when gun shots were reported behind the stadium. Head coach Alan Rodemaker says all of the players and coaches are safe.
This is a developing story and WCTV will provide updates as more information becomes available.