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VERIFY: How long passed before fans were told about shooting outside Nats Park?

The Verify team used social media and local broadcast footage to break down the timeline of events, following Saturday night's shooting outside Nats Park.

WASHINGTON — Many Nationals fans are still reflecting on the scary moments on Saturday night, when gun shots rang in the air, following an incident outside the stadium. Many fans, fearing that the shots were from inside the stadium, rushed for the exits.

The Verify team sorted through the many videos on social media showing the chaotic moments in order to formulate a timeline of events. 


How long passed before stadium authorities alerted fans to the fact that the shootings were outside of the arena? 



Based on a timeline created by the Verify team, fans were told to remain inside the stadium by 9:35, just four minutes after the shooting occurred. Fans were informed that the "action was outside" of the stadium by 9:38 or earlier, just seven minutes after the shooting. Fans were told that it was safe to leave the stadium by 9:44, which was 13 minutes after the shootings. 


Saturday night was a frightening evening for a lot of Nationals fans. Many sprinted for the exits, following the sound of gun shots. In the aftermath, many fans are questioning why so much time passed before they were informed about what happened. 

"It took way too long for you to communicate what fans should do," said one person on Twitter. "Lots of commotion. No announcement for an extended period of time." 

The sentiment was echoed by many online, who said those chaotic moments seemed to drag on for a long time. 

The Verify team created the following timeline, based on social media posts and local broadcasts. The timeline was confirmed by the Nationals. 

9:31 - 9:34: Shots Fired

According to DC Police, the initial call for shots fired was made at 9:31. In the moments after this shooting, many fans began to rush for the exits fearing that the gun shots were inside the stadium. Others expressed confusion about what had happened. 

Those at home could hear the sounds of shots fired, as the announcers began to toss to a commercial break. 

At 9:34, a freelance journalist named Daniel Newhauser sent out a Tweet, showing a lot of confused fans looking for guidance. No announcements could be heard at this time. 

9:35 - Warnings Begin:

After four minutes, the warnings began via the PA system. The Verify team watched the local Padres broadcast, which showed a wide-shot of the stadium, as the announcements began. 

"We ask that you remain inside the stadium at this time," the voice said over the PA system. 

Despite the announcements, many continued to rush for the gates. One Tweet referred to the situation as "pandemonium." Another showed fans fleeing the stadium from a neighboring roof. 

According to the Nationals, at 9:36 a slate was put up on the Jumbotron, asking fans to remain inside the stadium, citing that the incident occurred outside. 

At 9:36, a political reporter for the Daily Mail named Rob Crilly Tweeted out a photo, reporting that the announcements were continuing. He reported that the announcement now was saying "the action is outside the stadium."

At 9:38, the Verify team found the first posted video, showing the PA announcer alerting fans to the fact that the incident was outside. The video was tweeted by an employee of ABC News named Bobby Gehlen.

At 9:39, someone with the Twitter handle, "Solomon Tucker," sent out a video showing that the announcements were continuing.  The PA system continued to call for people to stay inside the stadium and to "remain calm." 

9:44: Fans Told To Leave

Thirteen minutes after the shots were fired, fans are finally told that they are safe to exit the stadium, according to the Nationals. 

Three minutes later, at 9:47, The Washington Nationals Twitter handle released a statement alerting fans to the specifics of the incident. 


In response to inquiries from the Verify team, the Washington Nationals Baseball Club sent the following statement: 

“We are proud of the orderly manner in which our fans and staff responded. Within two minutes of the MPD arriving on the scene our security, along with the MPD, immediately locked down the perimeter and notified fans to remain inside until further notification. It was only after the MPD assured the Nationals that the streets and immediate neighborhood was secure that we began instructing fans and employees how to safely exit. 

The training that we conduct regularly with our staff and law enforcement partners was invaluable and undoubtedly played a key role in keeping people safe and informed.”  

Some fans expressed frustration with the two minute lag between police arriving, and fans being alerted to the incident. 

Tom O'Connor, a former FBI Special Agent and a consultant for FedSquared Consulting, gave the Verify team some context. he said that those first few minutes are crucial in a situation like this, but also incredibly difficult to navigate. 

"If you're a person inside a stadium," he said. "And you think there's an active shooter, five minutes is an extremely long time. In the real world, five minutes to get accurate information is pretty darn quick."

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