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Santa Barbara father and son speak out about fight and gun scare at soccer tournament


SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Andrew and Brooks Firestone, of Santa Barbara, are opening up about their experience at a soccer tournament in Temecula that started with a fight on the field and ended with a gun scare.

Ten-year-old Brooks was invited to join the team just for the tournament. His team made it to the championships and was playing in the last ten minutes of the game when a fight between opposing players broke out.

Andrew Firestone was on the sidelines watching and said the atmosphere was already charged. "The fans and spectators for other team were really intense screaming at referees and players. It was a really intense situation right from the first whistle," he said.

As the fight was dying down between the players, ages 10 to 12, someone believed to be a teenager, ran onto the field and punched one of the kids knocking him out.

"I see this spectator just come off of the sidelines and punches the kid on our team flat on the ground," Brooks said.

Parents and spectators swarmed the field, yelling and screaming.

In the chaos, a man dressed in black with a camouflage backpack ran onto the field and "acted" like he was armed.

"We hear from a little ways away, 'He's got a gun! He's got a gun!' and a guy is sitting there in the middle of the field holding his hand into a bag," Firestone said.

"I started running, everybody started running," said Brooks.

All games were cancelled, and people left the field.

Firestone said the conversation during the car ride home with his son was a difficult one and what happened on the field in Temecula should be a wake up call for parents and soccer fans everywhere.

"This field of play is supposed to be their safe place. It's not a place they should be scared," Firestone said. "I know it's going to change my own behavior."

Brooks said he still loves the game of soccer, "with all my heart," and wants to remind parents and spectators that kids don't go into their places of work yelling and screaming at them.

"It's kind of like me going into my dad's office and yelling, 'Daddy, come on!' It's not going to help his day. It's just going to annoy him and distract him from what he's trying to do."

Deputies detained the man with the backpack and investigators said he did not have a weapon.

The father of the child injured said his son will be okay.

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Alys Martinez

Alys Martinez is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Alys, click here.


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