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More baseball, less gunshots

Even though I had been awake for nearly two hours Sunday morning, it seemed like it took forever for my brain to parse the tweet on the North Carolina Little League Baseball Info Twitter account. 

I was searching for information on the state tournament games at Gillette Baseball Complex as well as at Elm Street Park in Greenville. But now my mind was trying to put the words “active shooter” and “Wilson City Little League” and “shots fired at Gillette” in some order that I could understand. 

Then it hit me.

Just days after people were gunned down at a Fourth of July parade in Illinois, some sick person was shooting at a Little League game right here in Wilson. 

I quickly discovered that, luckily, no one was hit and, aside from a back window of a vehicle parked in the lot, no injuries.

Except the shattered nerves of everyone who was there. 

I wasn’t there but, like many others, have seen the Facebook videos of people who were recording memories of their kids’ Little League game one minute and running in terror. The sheer emotion in the voice of one woman was palpable as she ran, her phone still recording, from the chaos of the scene.

This is the world we live in now. Even if it turns out that the shots were fired unintentionally from a distance, it won’t erase the trauma that all of those people felt in that moment and likely ever since.

Given that, it’s completely understandable that the two state tournaments for age groups 7-8 and 8-9 at Gillette have been canceled. No one has been charged or arrested and the only thing that provides any comfort is the Wilson Police Department’s assertion that it didn’t seem as though the shooter was actually targeting people.

Maybe not, but if this was found to be an intentional act, it must also be considered a terrorist act, regardless of whether anyone was injured.

The Wilson Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees the Wilson City Little League program that was hosting the event, posted on its Facebook page the press releases from WPD along with an apology.

No need for that. It’s not the fault of Wilson Parks and Recreation or Wilson City Little League, both of which have been putting on Little League district and state tournaments since Gillette opened in 2009. It’s not the fault of Wilson Police Department and it’s certainly not the fault of anyone who was at Gillette. 

It’s the fault of whoever fired those shots.

I’m sure running for cover under fire will leave an unfavorable impression of Gillette and Wilson with some of the people who were there Sunday morning. All I can say is that Gillette has been an overwhelmingly safe environment in its 13-year history, as it should be. There’s never been any type of trouble of that comes close to what happened Sunday despite thousands of people visiting the complex each year. It’s a community jewel that won’t be besmirched by a fool with a gun.

Thankfully, this won’t be the end of baseball this year at Gillette. The complex will host the Little League Baseball Southeast Region Tournament of Champions for age groups 8-10 and 9-11, starting July 24. The WCLL Ages 8-10 team could be playing in it if it takes care of business the next few days in Greenville and wins the state championship.

Hopefully, we can get back to baseball soon. We need more Little League baseball and less gunshots in this country.

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