FREDERICK, Md. >> The suspects in a shooting that wounded two students outside a high school basketball game in Maryland were still at large Thursday morning, and police said they haven’t ruled out any motives.
Police said they’re investigating a range of possibilities in the Wednesday night shooting at Frederick High School, including reports from students that it could be gang-related or stem from a rivalry between the two schools playing in the game.
Investigators also are looking into reports from students who said they saw four to five males — dressed in big coats and hands in their pockets — walk into the gymnasium during the game and leave shortly before the gunfire rang out, Frederick Police Capt. Richard Hetherington said.
Investigators believe the shooter or shooters fled on foot, he said, and police were searching the grounds Thursday for paths they may have left.
Police also planned to obtain school surveillance video and reinterview the victims.
“Frederick’s a relatively small town, so it’s likely they probably knew each other, but until we identify the suspects, we don’t know,” Hetherington said.
Frederick, with about 68,000 residents, is a rapidly growing city about 40 miles west of both Baltimore and Washington.
The shooting left two male students with injuries that were not life-threatening, and sent spectators running for cover as frantic parents rushed to the scene to make sure their children were OK.
The two wounded students were flown to a hospital in Baltimore. The boys’ ages weren’t released, and there was no immediate update on how they were doing Thursday.
Two junior varsity basketball games were going on at the time of the shooting, Frederick County public schools spokesman Michael Doerrer said.
He said there were also students from at least two other high schools on campus. The two students who were shot attend a Frederick County school, but not the one where the shooting happened, Doerrer said.
He said two, unarmed, private security guards were on duty during the game. Security officers and police patrols were increased at all district schools Thursday, he said.
Superintendent Theresa Alban said in a video posted to the district’s YouTube channel that the shooting doesn’t mean the schools are dangerous.
“We all know that there are issues, many times, that are out there in the community that sometimes spill into our schools, and that’s exactly what happened yesterday,” she said.
After the shooting at about 8 p.m., officers took about 200 people who were at the game into the school cafeteria, secured the building and questioned witnesses, Hetherington said.
The students were released to their parents several hours later in the parking lot of a nearby bowling alley. There was excited chatter as parents hugged their children.
Frederick High School junior Sofia McCluskey said she was watching the game and heard a muffled shot. “Someone yelled, ‘Yo, they’re shooting,'” she said. “And we just ran as fast as we could.”
She and her friend, Stephanie Sanchez, said they ran to the locker room and were taken to the cafeteria to be briefly interviewed by police.
Sanchez said it was a frightening experience. “I was, like, shaking the whole time. I still am,” she said late Wednesday night.
DeJuan Jones, a sophomore, said he knew the boys who were shot.
“They was at my house a couple of days ago,” he said. He said he believed the shooting was gang-related. “Everybody knows, everybody knows,” he said.
Dana Wiles, 40, said her daughter, a Frederick High school sophomore, sent her a text message around 8:40 p.m. “She said she saw it happen,” Wiles said. “She’s not coming back to any more basketball games. I’m keeping her home with me.”
Tanika Mayweather, whose 15-year-old son Lawrence was playing in the basketball game, said, she’s not letting him play basketball for the school anymore.
“We’ll have our basketball games out in the park,” she said.
Frederick High School, on the city’s west side, has about 1,300 students. The school district closed the school and West Frederick Middle School for students on Thursday. The schools are set to reopen Friday.