An informal powder puff football game at a Houston high school turned deadly when gang-related gunfire left one dead and five wounded.
The mayhem broke out at 6:45 p.m. after a Ford Taurus drove up to the field at Worthing High School where dozens of students and adults were watching the game, according Houston Police spokesman John Cannon. He said young men -- who witnesses said belonged to rival high school gangs -- got out of the car and fistfights broke out between them and bystanders.
The young men returned to their car, pulled out pistols and started firing.
"Someone on the field starts firing back," according to Cannon.
"Too many people and I couldn't tell who had a gun. I was running for my life," Tordre McMillan told ABC News affiliate KTRK.
"We were right there. They weren't shooting in the air to scare. They were shooting at people," Lakeisha Reece told KTRK.
Tremaine Paul, 18, of Houston, was pronounced dead at Ben Taub General Hospital. Five other young men, whose names have not yet been released, were treated at local hospitals.
Two men fled the scene in the Taurus, Cannon said, and the car -- blood-splattered and pierced by bullet holes -- was later found a couple of miles away outside an apartment complex. The men had already been taken to hospitals by private transport when cops found the car, Cannon said.
The game was not a school-sanctioned event, according to Norm Uhl, a spokesman for the Houston Independent School District. He said the field is primarily used for practice by school sports teams, which play their official games at three sports complexes, and community groups use the space after hours.
Worthing High School, which has more than 1,000 students, is open today, Uhl said. "We have an increased police presence at the school" along with teams of counselors, he said. Uhl said the school has not had a lot of violent incidents and said that school security includes a gang unit that enforces dress codes, including a ban on gang colors.
But shocked parents and community activists said two gangs--Early 103, from Yates High School, and the Murder Mob, from Worthing High School, clash in the area. they had long feared bloodshed. Alberta Ewing, who has two grandchildren at the school and who ran to the scene after the incident, said it's not a safe enough environment.
"I've seen a lot of fights after school. I've asked for more security," she said.
Ewing complained that there are no lights on the practice field where the shooting occurred. "I'm a nervous wreck," she said, and added that her grandchildren, Joshua Gordon and Jonathon Holley, both 15, refused to go to school today. "Their nerves are real bad."
Houston School Shoot Out
Sandra Massie Hines, who lives in the area, said violence festers among young people in apartments near the school. "Kids of 13, 14, 15 are now packing loaded guns and are showing them off as a trophy," she said.
The Houston Independent Schools District is not devoting enough resources to Worthing and other troubled urban schools, she said. "The HISD is a multibillion-dollar industry. The money is not spent on the schoolchildren."