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Families scatter from Long Leaf Park after hearing shots fired

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 4:07 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - People scattered at the sound of gunfire at Long Leaf Park off College Road on Wednesday evening around 7 p.m., Sheriff’s say.

The shooting was confirmed by New Hanover County Sheriff’s Lt. Jerry Brewer who was at the park with his family when the shooting occurred.

About 40 people were at the basketball courts at the time and the softball field stands were crowded with families watching their kids at the ball games.

NHC Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Ken Sarvis said multiple rounds of gunfire were exchanged between at least two people and it appears the shooting started on the ground; although, investigators have not ruled out a drive-by shooting.

Sarvis also reported no-one was hit by bullets and there appeared to be no injuries. A couple of cars were hit by stray bullets.

One caller who was at the scene said people were running across the street to get away.

Officers from WPD and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene and evidence markers could be seen on the basketball court.

WECT reached out to local leaders about this incident. Mayor Bill Saffo responded in an email statement:

For too many of our neighbors, a peaceful evening at the park ended in fear when an altercation on the basketball court ended in gunfire. While I am grateful beyond words that no one was injured, I am horrified that this occurred. Wilmington prides itself in being a safe place for families and we must not allow law and order to be undermined in our community . While the incident occurred at a county park, the city of Wilmington is committed to working with the New Hanover county sheriffs office to offer every measure of support in their investigation , and focusing the attention and resources of our community on keeping our families safe.

County commissioners, chairwoman Julia Olsen-Boseman and Jonathan Barfield, also responded as follows:

“I want to thank our law enforcement for their quick response, and we will work together to help ensure the safety of our community and in our parks,” said Boseman.

“This gun violence has to cease,” said Barfield. “The basketball courts were out there as an outlet and activity especially for our area youth not a place to settle disagreements. My heart goes out to those who were traumatized by this event and I’m sure that area Law Enforcement will be in full force.”

Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to call the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office at (910) 798-4162 or submit an anonymous tip here.

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