A gunman was killed by police Monday morning after firing shots inside Duncanville Fieldhouse, where about 150 children were attending a summer camp, according to Duncanville police.
Police said no children, staff or officers were harmed.
At around 8:45 am, police received phone calls about a gun-toting person who had fired shots in the camp, a city facility at 1700 S. Main St., Duncanville police said in a live streamed news conference.
The summer camp at the Fieldhouse, an indoor sports and fitness center, has an average daily attendance of approximately 250 children between the ages of 4 and 14. Campers were locked in rooms after the initial report of gunshots and subsequently evacuated from the building, authorities said.
Officers arrived at the camp house about two minutes after being called, entered the building, found the suspect armed and confronted him, police said at a morning news conference. The gunman was shot by officers during an exchange of gunshots and later died in hospital, police said.
In another press conference Monday afternoon, police said the man entered the building through the main lobby doors and fired for the first time after exchanging words with a staff member. Police did not comment on whether the man and the staff member knew each other or what was said between them.
Camp counselors underwent their training and moved the children to safe areas and started closing doors, police said. The suspect fired a shot from outside a closed classroom into the room, where the children were present but not injured, police said.
The suspect then went to the gym but did not shoot there until the officers arrived, police said. The children were removed from the area before officers confronted the suspect in the gym and exchanged gunshots, killing him, according to the police statement.
Authorities did not publicly identify the suspect and questioned the Texas Rangers about him on Monday afternoon, citing ongoing investigations. Police previously said it was unclear whether the man was targeting someone in the camp house, or what led to the incident, Star-Telegram media partner WFAA-TV reported.
Camp councilor Naomi Rodgers told KXAS-TV she was working with a group of about 40 children when they heard the first shot.
“We had to move them around the room because the building is glass and we had to find a safe space,” Rodgers told KXAS. “The shooter actually came to our door … and he said if we didn’t show him who he wanted to see he would shoot instead.”
Duncanville Mayor Barry Gordon told the WFAA that police responded within two minutes and that within 10 minutes they had shot and killed the suspect.
Officers recently underwent active marksman training, the mayor said.
“Our officers didn’t hesitate,” Gordon told the WFAA. “They did what they were trained to do and they saved lives.”
Tomisha Johnson, whose daughter is a day camp staff member, told KDFW-TV that camp counselors heard gunshots and immediately helped the children to take refuge in another part of the building.
“As a parent, this is the worst call you want to hear, especially where your child is,” Johnson told KDFW. “It’s getting to the point where this is like an everyday situation. We hear a lot of active shootings, like every day. It’s ridiculous. I don’t know what will have to happen for this to stop. But all our kids were trying to do was have fun. “
The shooting occurred less than three weeks after an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24.
“Of course we understand what happened south of us,” Duncanville Deputy Police Chief Matthew Stogner said during the afternoon press conference. “I can only talk about how we responded here and did an exceptional job.”
Police said the camp house was cleared Monday morning and parents could pick up the children from Duncanville Recreation Center at 201 James Collins Blvd.
Michael Strickland, whose grandchildren were at summer camp, told WFAA he saw the news of the shooting on Facebook and rushed to the camp.
“This world we live in now is unpredictable,” Strickland said. “There are two forces, good and evil. It clearly shows which side this incident is on. “
Duncanville is located in southern Dallas County, approximately 30 miles east of Fort Worth.
Police pinned a black SUV in the camp house parking lot with crime scene tape and were investigating the vehicle, video of the scene shows.
This story was originally published June 13, 2022 11:27 am.