A youth football coach and his 14-year-old player are recovering after being shot at the St. Roch playground Friday night. The two say they're hoping police will better protect the neighborhood after a series of shootings there, injured innocent victims.
Kendall Pitfield, 14, describes what happened Friday night as gunshots filled the air. "Everybody ran when they started shooting, everybody ran. I just felt my leg and I felt the hole and I thought I was dead," Pitfield said.
The St. Roch football team was about to start practice, getting ready for Saturday's big championship game when stray bullets from a nearby shooting struck both Pitfield and coach Wyman Diaz.
Diaz explains, "I had a player right next to me and I turned and pushed him in order to start running and before I knew it, I felt the pain."
Diaz was hit in the back. The bullet is still lodged there as doctors contemplate whether to remove it.
Diaz says he's not angry that he was struck but more mad that his players were involved in such senseless violence. "I'm disappointed that they'd take it to the park, bring violence to the park because the park is there for the kids," Wyman said.
In July, 17-year-old Johan Kenner was killed at St. Roch Park while he played football with friends. Nearby residents say they'd like to see the city do something to address the ongoing violence.
"If you see a camera obviously you'll think twice about what it is that you're doing but I really think it is just getting somebody official to get attention where it needs to be," resident Garrett Broadnax said.
Diaz says he broached the subject with NOPD Chief Harrison the night of the shooting and even inquired about beefing up the police presence in the neighborhood. "The more presence at the park, the less violence there will be," said Diaz.
Time will tell if anything changes at the park. In the meantime, both Diaz and Pitfield say they're grateful no one else on the team was injured as police continue to search for the shooter.
Kendall Pitfield says he's most upset about not being able to play in the championship game, which was to take place this past Saturday but has been re-scheduled for next week.