Safety concerns after shooting near youth football practice at SW Atlanta rec center

The sound of gunfire erupting near a southwest Atlanta recreation center Tuesday evening sent parents, coaches and players of a youth football team ducking for cover. Now organizers of the football team say they’ve moved practices to a different location as a safety precaution.

"It’s something that me and I’m pretty sure a lot of these kids and parents will never forget," youth football coach Greg Browning told FOX 5.

For Browning, the sidelines of William Walker Recreation Center’s football field have always felt like a safe space to watch his six year-olds run plays. He said that feeling has been shaken in the days since he heard the sound of bullets flying through the air.

"I coach the six and under William Walker Tiger’s…this is a lifeline to our kids," he said. "It’s about 30 to 40 kids on the field at the time, ranging from the age of 5 to 11 as well as volunteer coaches, parents and grandparents…it literally ricocheted off the fence that my parents were sitting behind." 

Browning told FOX 5 the shots came from some woods nearby. It’s the second shooting reported near the recreation center in the last few months. In June, a 19-year-old was shot near the basketball courts at Ben Hill Recreation Center. 

While no one was injured this time, parents, and coaches say they’re concerned about the safety of their children and those who come out to support them.

"To see them hit the ground, to see them running for their lives…that was unsettling," Tina Allen told FOX 5. "These boys came to practice and they could’ve not come to another practice."

Allen was one of those sitting behind the fence watching her grandson. She said it’s been difficult for him to get past. 

"‘What if someone shoots again?’ That was his question to me," she recalled.

Though Browning told FOX 5 they’re grateful no one was hurt, they’ve since moved practice to another nearby field. He and Allen both said they hope the incident highlighting a need for safety around the city’s recreation centers won’t be overlooked by elected officials. 

Atlanta police said investigators did not find shell casings or suspects on scene when they arrive about 15 minutes later. They also weren’t able to get much of a description. If you have any information, give police a call.