Teens open fire outside church gym packed with kids

Teen open fire outside church gym packed with kids

MONROE, Ga. — Police are searching for two teens who opened fire outside a church gym packed with kids playing basketball.

Every Monday night, Monroe Church of God opens up its family center to middle and high school students so they can get some exercise and a meal. But last night, two of those teenagers were armed and pulled their guns after an argument over a pickup game, according to officers. That argument spilled out into the parking lot, where shots were fired.

“They started bumping and grinding and scuffling during the game,” Pastor David Smith said. “They brought it outside. It continued to escalate until one of them pulled out a gun and began to shoot. He fired off one or two rounds and then the other pulled a gun and returned fire.”

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Smith says it didn’t appear the teens were shooting directly at each other, but rather shooting off warning shots.

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An adult volunteer who was inside with the kids heard the gunfire and ran outside to stop it by jumping in between the two teens.

“He said, ‘If you're going to shoot, there's kids in here. If you're going to shoot, you're going to have to shoot through me,’” Smith said. “He was worried about the crossfire. It was a very brave thing to do. I told him it wasn't the wisest thing to do, to step in between gunfire.”

The teens took off.

Monroe Police Chief Keith Glass says the staff and the other kids reacted well to a dangerous situation.

“This is the first type of incident of this nature we have had at this location,” he said. “No one was hurt and that was the good thing."

The chief says they have a pretty good idea of who those teens are and plan to arrest them soon.

He says they are also taking steps to heighten security on basketball nights and keep an eye on who comes in to play.

“We are going to work with the church to put some things in place to make it safer,” Glass said. “I’ve got several officers that like to shoot baskets and they'll be coming by to shoot baskets.”