When gunshots began to reverberate around National Park, San Diego Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. immediately thought of family members of the team and friends in the seats.
Tatis plopped down the left field line off the bench on Saturday night, helped open a gate to the stands and began leading a group back into the dugout for shelter.
“Our family, loved ones, small children. Feel like someone needs to pick them up,” Tatis said on Sunday. “I think the safest place was the clubhouse and we were trying to get our families to a safer place.”
The game between the Padres and the Washington Nationals ended in the top half of the sixth inning in front of about 33,000 fans when several shots were heard on South Capitol Street outside the third-base side of the stadium.
But at the time, no one knew whether the fast series of shots was coming from inside the ballpark or beyond.
“It doesn’t make the situation better, but the person shooting the firearm at the stadium would have been in a completely different situation,” said longtime Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman.
According to Ashan Benedict, acting assistant police chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, three people were injured in a shootout between people in two cars.
According to a police report, a woman participating in the game was waiting for an Uber outside the park when she was gunned down. Police officials said there were injury marks on his back.
Police said the condition of the other two people who were injured in the bullet injuries was stable.
Padres manager Jayce Tingler was on his way to see plate umpire Jordan Baker about a pitching change in a game San Diego led 8-4 when the shooting resumed.
“He’s like, ‘Did you hear that?'” Tingler recalled Baker saying. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, I think so’ and it kind of registered that could possibly have happened and obviously it was just a nightmare.”
A chaotic scene developed rapidly. As the Padres cleared the field, some fans rushed to leave the stadium, while others dodged and tried to hide in search of cover.
“Everybody is running. It was madness. You didn’t understand what was going on. If it was one or two people,” Tatis said. “I just wanted to go to the safest place and get my families.” was trying.”
Tatis and teammates Manny Machado and Will Myers praised him for helping guide—and even for taking—the fans out of harm’s way.
“The situation changed immediately,” Tatis said. “Now players are not fans. I think everyone is fair, human beings trying to be safe.
The game was then halted and completed on Sunday, with the Padres winning 10–4. Washington won 8–7 in the regularly scheduled game.
The game went off without incident, a stark contrast from the previous night.
As shots were being played, national manager Dave Martinez was making sure his players were safe.
“Then I started worrying about their families and tried my best to get them to the players,” Martinez said. “And I started worrying about the fans too.”
Seeing the reaction on the third base side of the stadium, the fans of the first base side also started running from their seats. Some of them went down to the ground.
“There was a group of fans, they were in our dugout and I wanted to keep them safe too,” Martinez said. “We took them inside through the tunnel and took them inside safely and tried to keep them safe. For me it was just about doing everything possible to protect my people and stay calm.”
Like Tingler, Martinez became emotional as he recalled the events.
Minutes after hearing the shots, a message appeared on the National Park scoreboard saying the incident was outside the park and fans should stay inside. About 10 minutes later, fans were instructed to exit through the center- and right-field gates.
“We started to find out that everything happened outside the stadium,” Tingler said. “That’s when we started feeling a little better. You never feel good.”
In a statement on Sunday, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and team owner Mark Lerner said police did not think “the Washington Nationals, ballparks or fans were the target” of the shooting.
“We appreciate the tremendous support of the fans at Saturday night’s game, who responded to whatever was asked of them in very tense situations, and the police and fire emergency medical personnel,” he said.
The Nationals announced that fans holding tickets for Saturday Night can redeem them for one more game this season.
“Davy Martinez said it best – our fans are our family. We appreciate each and every one of you and we look forward to seeing you back in the National Park,” the team said.
Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.