WASHINGTON — An emotional San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler spoke to reporters Sunday morning about the harrowing moments following gunfire just outside the ballpark during the team’s game on Saturday.
Three people were wounded in an apparent shootout between two vehicles near the home team Washington Nationals’ stadium gates. The gunfire could be heard clearly inside the park and on TV broadcasts, and it wasn’t initially clear to attendees whether a gunman was inside the stadium. Spectators scrambled for safety, some even taking cover in the Padres’ dugout until it was clear the incident happened outside the park.
Tingler was on the field approaching home plate umpire Jordan Baker when the shots rang out.
“I was going out to talk to Jordan to make a pitching change and as I was walking out, his eyes looked up towards — I guess it’s the third base line — the top deck. So my eyes turned around and obviously people were kind of taking cover and we didn’t really know what to think.
“He’s like, ‘Did you hear that?'” Tingler recalled. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I think so.'”
Tingler said he feared the worst.
“It’s a nightmare, it’s the thing maybe you think about in the back of your mind,” he said Sunday, appearing emotional as he paused to think. “We got the guys as quick as we could. You’re getting off the field, trying to get them in the dugout and get them in. Just a lot going on.”
As the teams huddled off the field and waited for word from security, the manager’s thoughts turned to all the people he knew had come to the ballpark that day that still weren’t with them — loved ones of players and coaches, and his relief pitchers out in the outfield bullpen.
“It dawns on you — the bullpen guys, and the families and just — moms, dads, brothers, children,” Tingler said. “It’s just … it’s a lot.”
The manager said he was grateful for the selfless actions of his players, some of whom popped back on to the field and opened a gate to usher fans into their dugout to take cover until it was clear there wasn’t present danger.
“I couldn’t be any more proud to be a Padre. To be …” Tingler said, breaking off to wipe a tear from his eye, “to be with the men in there.”
“Seeing fans and seeing people in panic, they just, they did the right thing,” he said of his players. “They thought maybe the dugout could have been the safest place, and they led and welcomed and guided people in there. Couldn’t be any more proud to have those players a part of our team.”
Tingler also thanked security and police officers at the park for their work figuring out what was going on and trying to keep everyone safe.
An investigation into the shooting is ongoing, according to Ashan Benedict, the Metropolitan Police Department’s executive assistant police chief. Officials believe two of the victims were involved in the initial gunfire and one person — a woman who was attending the game — had been a bystander. Her injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.
Watch FOX 5’s interview with a fan who says they were ushered into the dugout by Fernando Tatis Jr. and other Padres players here.