Richfield administrators cancel homecoming events after shooting outside football game

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UPDATE 9/24/22: Richfield Public Schools administrators have canceled homecoming weekend activities as authorities investigate the shooting outside Friday night’s football game.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke to a student who was at the game and recalled the moment she heard the shots.

“There was this ‘pop pop’ and I didn’t know what it was. At first. I thought it was one of those confetti cannons or something,” Mara Lien, Richfield High School student, said. “All of a sudden there was this mad rush. Everyone started running towards the exit screaming. I heard ‘Stay low, stay low.’ It was scary,”

Lien was sitting in the stands for her last homecoming game as a high school student.

The senior said the football game was a night to remember for the wrong reasons.

“It was horrifying. I didn’t know whether I was going to feel a gunshot within those minutes,” Lien said. “I don’t know how I’m going to go back and face the place where I thought I could have possibly died. It’s scary.”

Leslie Lien, Mara’s mom, rushed to the school to get her daughter moments after the shooting.

“I grabbed her and hugged her as hard as I could. I didn’t want to let go,” she said.

Brynn Martin, Richfield High School freshman, is doing her best to grasp what happened. After the shooting, she said her first instinct was to run home to her family.

“I just ran through the train tracks. I ran home. I ran so fast,” Martin said. “I’m still kind of shocked. I still can’t believe it happened. It doesn’t feel real.”

Educators have pointed to police for further updates as schools turn their attention to students’ needs.

See statements from the district superintendent and high school principal below:

Dear Spartan Families,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you tonight. I am heartbroken by the violence that broke out at the homecoming game, which has deeply impacted our entire community. What was supposed to be a weekend of celebration and school pride is now a time when we must come together in support and solidarity.

To help ensure student safety and to allow us all a little room to breathe, reflect and heal, we have made the decision to cancel all weekend activities, including boys and girls soccer and the homecoming dance.

We will have counselors and social workers on-site this week for any students who were directly or indirectly impacted by these events or who simply wish to process how they are feeling.

Principal Stacy Theien-Collins

Like Theien-Collins, the superintendent highlighted the availability of counselors for students affected by the shooting.

Dear Richfield Community,

Tonight, during our homecoming game, our community experienced an act of violence that left two people injured and has deeply impacted all of us. What we know is that a person (or persons) opened fire outside the homecoming game. Police were immediately on the scene, managing the situation and evacuating people from the area.

Senseless acts of gun violence are all too common in our country and this one was in our own backyard. Violence like this impacts all of us, but especially our students. We will have counselors and social workers on-site this week for any students who were directly or indirectly impacted by these events and need support.

As of right now, this is an active police investigation and we will look to the Richfield Police Department for further updates on the situation.

Superintendent Steven Unowsky

Check back for updates as 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS learns more from authorities.

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INITIAL REPORT 9/23/22: Police say two people were shot outside Richfield High School’s homecoming football game Friday night, causing the game to be shut down with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

A livestream of the football game between Richfield and Bloomington Kennedy that has since been taken down captured the sound of at least two bangs before fans and players ran screaming for the stadium exit. Multiple witnesses at the scene told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they heard two gunshots.

According to Richfield police, around 8:45 p.m., a staff member alerted an officer on site that there was a group of people who had been turned away from the gates and appeared to be waiting for the game to finish outside the north end of the stadium.

The officer heading over to check on the group heard two shots and saw people scatter from the area. Two young men ages 18 and 21 were found shot by the northeast entrance to the stadium, according to police.

The 18-year-old victim was taken to the hospital, but police say both are expected to be OK.

As of Friday night, no suspects have been identified and no arrests have been made.