Rumours of an active shooter in Barclays Center in New York, on Sunday, led to a stampede, where 16 people were injured. A crowd had gathered to watch the boxing match between Gervonta Davis and Rolando Romero, and in the audience was tennis star Naomi Osaka, who recounted her harrowing experience in a Twitter post.
The clip shows people rushing to evacuate after gunshots could be heard towards the end of the boxing match. This comes days after the massacre at Uvalde in Texas, where a lone gunman shot up children at the Robb Elementary School. Naturally, nerves are frayed and everyone is on alert, with news arriving of multiple threats against schools across the US, in the wake of the Texas incident.
A 16-year-old Long Island student was arrested for threatening to carry out a mass shooting at the Bellport High School. Another 18-year-old from Lutz, Florida, was also placed under arrest for a photo in a tactical vest, carrying a rifle and a handgun, asking Siri for directions to the nearest school.
However, the most shocking has to be an alarming text sent by a 5th grader in Cape Coral, Florida, prompting authorities to take action. Gun violence is a brutal reality of life in the US, as is evidenced by many such cases – be it Sandy Hook, back in 2012, or the more recent racially motivated shooting in Buffalo.
Thus, the reaction at Barclays Center is understandable, given the very real threat to people’s lives. The 78th precinct of the NYPD tweeted “After investigating the incident at the Barclays Center this morning, we determined that no shots were fired”.
Later, an NYPD spokesperson told CNN that the source of the sound remained unclear. One individual, who’d been hurt in the stampede, later told The New York Times that “pop pop” sounds were heard, before someone screamed that there was a shooter with a gun, triggering the stampede.
Osaka shared her thoughts after the experience at Barclays.
The tennis pro had earlier said she was “petrified” of the incident, and tweeted “I was just in the Barclays centre and suddenly I heard shouting and saw people running, then we were being yelled at that there was an active shooter and we had to huddle in a room and close the doors”.
The Japanese pro later shared a much more detailed statement, where she drew parallels to the school shooting, saying “I was lucky enough to have a security guard with me and I cannot imagine having to navigate through that situation by yourself, let alone being a child and it not being a false alarm.”
Osaka also shared that she’d read how bulletproof backpacks were now being sold more, and said that the situation needed changing and the US couldn’t continue down this path where gun violence becomes a part of everyday life. The 24-year-old labelled it “insanity”.
Despite such statements, America continues its love affair with guns and the National Rifle Association (NRA)– the gun rights advocacy group – held its annual meeting in Houston, after the Uvalde shooting. Former President Donald Trump and Republican Ted Cruz were among those in attendance.