Action News Jax Investigates: Why security wasn’t present during shooting at Youth Football Game

Jacksonville, FL. — A Sunday afternoon Youth Football Tournament hosted by the Mandarin Athletic Association (MAA) in Greenland Park Sunday became a crime scene after a man started shooting.

JSO says no one was hurt in the shooting.

The shooter was last seen wearing a black sweatshirt and a red belt.

Investigators tell Action News Jax no arrests have been made as of yet.

Sports photographer Sterling Jones says he saw two men arguing, before one of them pulled a gun out of a backpack and opened fire.

“Everybody’s trying to shield children because you’ve got kids walking all over the place!” said Jones.

MAA tells Action News Jax Investigates security was not present for the tournament.

Police say about 500 people, including players and spectators, were at the event.

“These are kids we’re talking about. It definitely should be police presence made known throughout the park,” said Jones.

A city spokesperson says MAA did have a permit for Sunday’s tournament, and tells Action News Jax Investigates there are no specific security requirements from the city for MAA’s use of Greenland Park.

MAA’s president, Jovie Bellin, spoke to Action News Jax Investigates in a phone interview, and shared her immediate reaction to news of the shooting.

“Shock and worry, a lot of concern for all of our families that were out there. After I learned what had happened and everything, it was basically, disappointment,” said Bellin.

Bellin says MAA typically provides security when several hundred people are expected to be in attendance. She says they were expecting about 100-150 people to be present at any given time on Sunday.

“We weren’t expecting the volume of participants and players that were up there that day,” said Bellin. “We were expecting a lot less people. We were informed that a lot of the teams actually had folded. They couldn’t, you know, make the numbers. So, we didn’t expect that many people there. Also, it was a jamboree, so they were only supposed to be 20 minutes long… We were expecting players and participants to play their game and all of them vacate the premises.”

Action News Jax asked Bellin whether MAA will provide security at future Youth Football events.

“It was just a misjudgment on my part then to not secure security because of the crowd that was coming,” said Bellin. “We will definitely have [security] for any future football events that we’re hosting.”

Bellin says MAA will host an emergency board meeting this week to discuss the shooting and future security measures.

Action News Jax Investigates reached out to Mayor Lenny Curry for comment on what’s being done to address violence in Jacksonville.

Statement from Mayor Lenny Curry:

“While enforcement is an important part of any crime reduction effort, I know the importance of investing in prevention and intervention programs that address the causes of crime and prevent acts of violence from occurring in the first place. I’m fully committed to making Jacksonville a safer community in partnership with law enforcement and community organizations. That’s why my budget provides Sheriff Mike Williams with the tools, personnel, and resources his officers need to protect and serve. It’s also why we invest in tools, technologies, and strategies to help State Attorney Melissa Nelson and her team prosecute dangerous criminals and keep them off our streets. In addition, we are working to expand mentoring and trauma response for our children. By working with KHA we will continue to implement and refine alternatives to the old juvenile justice models and guide our young people to better opportunities and brighter futures.”