A collision of two cars just outside Selma High School’s football stadium Friday night followed by an exchange of gunfire caused officials inside the stadium to stop the varsity game at halftime.
No one appeared hurt, said Selma police Chief Greg Garner. One of the vehicles and its occupants drove away moments after the gunplay on Thompson Avenue; the driver of the other vehicle was questioned by police.
Garner originally said the shooting may have been provoked by road rage. On Saturday, he said that was unlikely. The victim, who previously was thought to be a suspect, told police he had been involved in a road-rage incident Friday afternoon, so it was thought perhaps the shooter was the same person.
Instead, Garner said, the victim, a 24-year-old man, was driving on Thompson Avenue when a white car, possibly a Honda, struck his car while driving recklessly.
After the crash, the occupants of the Honda got out and started shooting at some people standing on the west side of Thompson Avenue. Garner said those people returned fire.
“It’s our belief that they were their intended target to begin with and they may have been distracted, which caused them to strike the other vehicle,” he said.
Officers were on scene within 30 seconds, but Garner said all the shooting suspects had fled by then. Police searched the area and found the victim, who had fled to safety. They also found at least six shell casings and a couple of vehicles parked on the east side of Thompson that were struck by gunfire.
Garner said Selma has seen a recent increase in weapons-related calls – more than a dozen in the past three weeks, most of which were for shots fired.
No one has been seriously injured but he said the calls caught the department’s attention because there had been none for nearly two months prior.
Selma High School athletic director Randy Esraelian estimated the crowd at the game between 2,600 and 3,000 people. The shooting brought out 25 officers from the Police Department and Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
Asked whether the incident drew more police response because of the game, Garner said: “We’re always concerned when violence occurs no matter where in the city. Obviously right next to a high school event isn’t the best place to have this happen, but there is no good place for this to happen.”
Selma resident Ken Robison, a former Bee reporter who was at the game between Selma and visiting Coalinga High, said the shooting happened shortly before 9 p.m. during halftime. Robison said about six or seven shots were heard in the area just west of Staley Stadium..
Robison said about 30 seconds later, more shots were heard and the stadium public-address announcer told the crowd to duck. A police representative then told the crowd to move onto the field.
Robison said fans were stunned. The teams were in their respective locker rooms when the shots were heard. Neither team returned to the field.
Selma won the game 34-0 to remain undefeated.