Crime

Coach says he’s in shock after shooting that hurt mom, girl at Fort Worth peewee game

The coach of the 81G Bulldog’s youth football team who helped organize the game where two people were injured by gunfire Saturday said he wants to apologize for what happened and wants the violence to stop.

Tyrone Dobbins, president of the 81G Bulldog Organization, said he has been coaching youth sports for 19 years and has never seen anything like what happened Saturday.

“I’m still in shock that a person could stand there and just shoot at anyone,” Dobbins said. “And there’s kids out there. How do you do that?”

Dobbins said he was not at the game Saturday. He was coaching his 10-year-old players at a game in Grand Prairie. Dobbins said he wrote a letter apologizing to the team’s supporters in conjunction with the Stop the Violence organization, a Fort Worth-based anti-violence group.

“We would like to extend a sincere apology for the senseless act of violence that took place on September 14, 2019,” the letter from Dobbins said. “We are taking the necessary steps to prevent this type of event from happening in the future.”

Dobbins has said he and other adults involved with the team try to teach the children that they need to control their emotions. Now his children are asking why this person who opened fire at their football game could not control his emotions, Dobbins said.

Authorities have said they believe Chanita Nicole Holly, 39, of Fort Worth, called her son from a youth football game in Fort Worth before he showed up and began firing rounds toward players and spectators.

Holly was arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat, police said. She was arrested around 8:30 p.m. Monday on Interstate 35 in Johnson County, according to the arrest report.

Grandview police made the arrest, according to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

Holly’s son hadn’t been arrested as of Thursday evening, police said, and no other arrests had been made.

Jamee Kneeland, whose nephew was playing in the game, sustained a bullet wound to the leg, and her 12-year-old daughter was also grazed by a bullet.

Before halftime in the 8-year-olds’ game at Eastern Hills High School, Kneeland said, she heard people loudly arguing and could make out a woman saying, “We’re gonna spray this (expletive).”

Then, about two minutes into the third quarter, a gunman began firing rapid rounds from the top of a hill toward the field below, witnesses said. Kneeland said it seemed like it was as many as 30 rounds in 30 seconds.

091719 pee wee 001
Jamee Kneeland, left, and Coach Rory Johnson talk about dealing with the aftermath of a shooting at a pee wee football game, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Fort Worth. Kneeland was shot in the leg and her daughter was grazed by a bullet during Saturday’s games. Yffy Yossifor yyossifor@star-telegram.com

Coach Rory Johnson, president of the Fort Worth Longhorns, one of the teams playing Saturday, said bullets ricocheted off of the metal bleachers and the wire fence.

Some people ran while others ducked for cover, and many adults were picking up children, witnesses said. The kids playing in the game could be seen lying down on the field.

This makes us look like bad guys

“The kids have a lot of questions,” Dobbins said. “Some of them are shocked. Many of them have never heard a gunshot before.”

Dobbins said in his letter that he wanted to clarify that his organization has no affiliation with the people who perpetrated the shooting, nor do they condone the conduct displayed. The organization has a zero tolerance policy for actions that involve bullying and violence, the letter said.

Some parents are concerned about the safety of their children and have said they will not return to the games, Dobbins said.

“From one incident, the people are thinking that we are the thugs,” Dobbins said. “I do this to help the kids, and I don’t want this to be a black eye for the organization.”

Many of the children Dobbins coaches come from the Berryhill area, where he grew up, and from the Morningside area, he said. The organization has no sponsors and only a little financial assistance from parents. The parents cannot afford to help.

“This makes us look like the bad guys, and that’s not how I want us to look,” Dobbins said. “I can’t give up. If I give up, what are my kids going to do?”

The goal of the organization is to teach core values to athletes, to display honesty and integrity, and to compete with dignity and pride, Dobbins said in his letter. He wrote that this adversity will allow them to demonstrate to their athletes that they are able to persevere through adverse situations with grace and humility.

“We ask that you continue to pray for the victims and our community during these difficult times,” the letter said. “It will be through the positive support of our community that we will rise above this incident and learn from this.”

Dobbins’ letter said the organization regrets that “this incident occurred during our game and that our players, family, and supporters had to experience such behavior. We appreciate your continued support and trust that, as we move forward, we will have a great season of football.”

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