Knoxville youth soccer games canceled after reports of shots fired

Two soccer games were canceled after the sound of gunfire at the Emerald Youth Haslam-Sansom Ministry Complex.
Knoxville youth soccer games canceled after reports of shots fired
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 8:55 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2023 at 10:29 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - At the Emerald Youth Haslam-Sansom Ministry Complex in Knoxville, kids are outside playing every day, but a few concerning moments have some parents scared to return.

On Saturday, the Knoxville Police Department said they responded to reports of gunshots in the area of Texas Avenue outside of the soccer complex. The sounds of gunfire caused the soccer game to be canceled as there was immediate concern for the safety of everyone on the field.

Kristen Tucker, a mother of one of the players, said she heard multiple gunshots in the area after halftime of her son’s game and then more gunfire shortly after confirming what she already suspected.

“We looked around and noticed all the parents looked concerned as well but nobody was doing anything differently at that time,” said Tucker. “A couple minutes later we heard four to five more shots, and at that point, we all knew it was gunfire,” Tucker continued.

KPD said that they investigated the reports and found no victims or damage from gunshots. The same can be said about a similar report that happened on Aug. 27th in the same area according to parents and KPD.

Heather Hicks said she was watching her son’s game which was nearing the end of completion when they heard shots ring out close to where the field was. This prompted parents and people from the stands to tell the referees and coaches and then everyone in the area had to lie down on the ground as they continued to hear shots.

“It was just terrifying having to see all of our children have to hit the ground like that; just during a soccer game when it’s supposed to be fun,” said Hicks as she watched her 14-year-old son take cover from the threat of danger.

Both of these instances resulted in no injuries to any children, but it’s left a lingering concern for safety from parents who are skeptical about returning to that field again.

“We’re always going to have that in the back of our minds. We’re always going to be scared to play soccer there,” said Hicks.

We asked Emerald Youth about safety concerns moving forward, and they responded with the following statement.

We are continually evaluating safety protocols and always looking out for the safety of young people and their families. In the over thirty-year history of our ministry, we have been fortunate to have never had a young person, volunteer, or staff impacted by an act of gun violence during our programming. We believe that this is nothing short of God’s protection and His presence. While deeply saddening and concerning, incidents like these only illustrate the need for our mission and continued presence in city neighborhoods.” -Emerald Youth Foundation