PRICHARD, Ala. (WALA) – Interim Police Chief Michael Rowland said the historic high school football game known as “The Battle of Prichard” at Prichard Stadium Saturday night was disrupted by someone setting off fireworks.
The game, which attracts hundreds of football fans to Prichard Stadium, pits Blount High school against Vigor High School.
Some two minutes before the game was supposed to end, police officials said someone set off fireworks causing fans to believe a shooting had taken place.
“This is a sad display of team pride and unity,” said Chief Rowland. “This poor excuse of a practical joke in the midst of what was an outstanding and enjoyable evening in Prichard was marred due to an individual’s selfish act.”
In a video taken by an eyewitness, you can see hundreds of people running in fear, and others lay down in the bleachers to protect themselves after they thought they had heard gun shots inside the stadium.
Even the football teams were laying down on the field to avoid could-be stray bullets.
Witnesses told FOX10 News it was a shame to see such a happy occasion end in such turmoil.
“Seeing those boys on the field, laid out like that, (it) really hurt my heart,” said Prichard resident Nikki Jones.
FOX10 also spoke to Vigor quarterback, Brandon Rodgers, about his initial reaction to the fireworks noises.
He said he was still focused on the game despite the chaos.
“I was still standing up waiting on the ball to kick in,” said Rodgers. “I wasn’t really scared of an altercation, I was trying to get the game over with.”
Rumors were spread that someone had actually been shot, because there had been sightings of people on stretchers, but police said those were medical calls for heat-related illnesses.
Investigators said some people did have scrapes or bruises after getting caught in the chaotic crowds, but besides that, no one was seriously injured during the incident.
Rowland said an investigation is underway to find the person or people responsible for the incident.
“The Battle of Prichard was a classic showcase among our resident schools in our city and they deserved to finish this game as champions of the field,” said Rowland.