ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - It is news no family wants to hear. The parents of 12-year-old Isiah Payton are having to cope with the new reality the child is paralyzed after the seventh-grader was shot twice just outside of Lakewood Stadium on Claire Drive, three weeks ago. A 16-year-old was also shot.
The development is especially hard for Isiah.
The Sylvan Middle School student had big dreams.
"It's like so hard, it's hard as a parent to hear this. It keeps going through my mind. I still can't believe it. He said he wanted to be in the NFL. He said, ‘Momma, I want to play professional al football,'" his mother Allison Wood reflected.
Atlanta police said multiple fights broke out inside the stadium August 17, and then spilled out onto Claire Drive as students were leaving. That is when police said someone pulled out a gun and started firing. A bullet hit Isiah in the chest and back. He has been in ICU at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston for 3 weeks. His coach and fellow teammates autographed a football for him that sits in his hospital room.
"It has just been overwhelming and a blessing you know," Wood remarked.
She believes APS's decision to change Carver High's night games to day ones, won't have an impact. She would like to see more officers and metal detectors at all high school games. Atlanta Police have not made any arrests, they are asking anyone with information to give them a call.
Atlanta Public Schools spokesperson Ian Smith released the following statement in response:
"At Atlanta Public Schools (APS) the safety and security of our students, staff and visitors is our top priority. Our APS police officers are highly trained and we have strong, multi-layered safety and security protocols in place for all sporting events at our facilities, including the use of handheld metal detectors, bags searches, and appropriate security staffing based on anticipated attendance.
"Recently two young people were injured in an incident that occurred away from District property near Lakewood Stadium after a football game. As a proactive measure to ensure the continued safety of our students, staff and visitors, we revised football schedules and moved some evening games to daytime. The current adjustments to the home games will not impact teams' abilities to play their full schedules, including any playoff games. This decision, which is being monitored on a week-to-week bases, is aligned with an approach the District implemented in the past that was very successful."