ST. LUCIE COUNTY — School officials won’t say how they might change policy or increase security at high school football games after fights broke out at a rivalry football game Friday night, forcing suspension of the game with nearly 21 minutes still left.
Five juveniles and two adults were arrested on charges including battery and resisting arrest stemming from fights that erupted in the third quarter of the game between Fort Pierce Westwood and Fort Pierce Central high schools at Lawnwood Stadium in Fort Pierce, officials said.
Asked Monday how the St. Lucie County School District would assure the safety of players and fans at football games, the district issued a prepared statement: “Upon careful analysis of the facts and input from agencies on-scene, we will determine what future measures need to be implemented to support a positive climate for spectators and participants alike.”
School officials declined to comment on the incident, but said approximately 3,700 people were in the stadium, which is owned by St. Lucie County. School events such as football games are managed and organized by the district, including law-enforcement staffing, officials said.
There are no security cameras at the stadium, officials said.
Witnesses at the game said it was wasn’t so much the fight that caused concern but the resulting chaos after rumors of gunshots. Pepper spray was used to break up the flights, but there were no gunshots, sheriff’s officials said.
There was a heavy law-enforcement presence at the game even before the fights, said Tim Glennon, a parent who was there. Police acted quickly once the fights started, but spectators overreacted and began running wildly as panic set in, he said.
“I thought (law enforcement) did as good of a job as they can,” Glennon said.
Games between the two Fort Pierce teams often are heated, but not usually to the degree of Friday’s,, said Bobbie Camp, another parent in attendance. Camp suggested the addition of metal detectors at the stadium to increase safety or moving the rivalry game to the daytime.
“If I didn’t have any (children) playing, I would not allow my kids to go to that game,” Camp said.
Spectator captures fans fleeing Showdown game
On Friday, Cleon Young, a spectator at the rivalry game between Fort Pierce Central and Fort Pierce Westwood captured video of fans fleeing the stadium and players laying down on the field. Viewer discretion is advised as the video contains some strong language.