Middletown 5th graders escape ‘stampede’ at basketball tournament

East Bay

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — A youth basketball team is back home after a frightening incident over the weekend at a tournament in Pennsylvania.

The group of fifth graders from Butler Basketball Club in Middletown was on the court Sunday when panic erupted. Hundreds of people suddenly stormed the court, thinking they were in danger.

“Like what’s going on? What’s going on? Then we hear, ‘Gun! Gun! Gun! Gun!’ So as soon as I hear that, I turn around to my kids and I start snatching up some of my kids, some of my kids had already started running,” coach and league president Randy Butler recalled.

Butler said the focus turned to the door and getting everyone out as the crowd frantically tried to do the same. Local police in Pennsylvania said at least six people were injured during what players described as a “stampede.”

“I saw a bunch of people getting trampled,” Chance Finlayson told 12 News.

“I kind of saw someone, I think it was the referee, she was on the ground, but I couldn’t turn around because there was so much people running,” Rashad Williams said.

Butler said he and his players heard some sort of popping noises, but police said there was no evidence suggesting that shots were actually fired.

Ultimately, none of the players from Rhode Island were hurt.

“I was scared for my life too, but my first intention was to get these kids out of here. I don’t want nothing to happen to these kids,” Butler added.

“I’m very proud of my team, the way they reacted, especially in that type of situation,” he continued. “No one wants to be in that situation and I hope we never get in that situation again.”

Butler said they’ve set up a meeting with a counselor later this week to make sure his players are doing OK mentally.

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