National News

Officials reviewing safety measures after gun fired at Kernersville youth football game

Posted October 17, 2017 12:45 p.m. EDT

— Youth football, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and police officials are meeting to improve safety standards after a gun was fired at a football game at Kernersville Elementary School on Saturday.

"You just expect to go have a fun afternoon and watch your kids play ball and it turns into something a little larger than that," said Jonathan Wilson, security director for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Kernersville police say they were investigating a disturbance at the game around 11 a.m. Saturday, when witnesses said that 22-year-old Jalen C. Cockerham had a gun on him. Police say when Cockerham was approached by an officer, a struggle ensued and Cockerham's firearm discharged. Cockerham was taken into custody and was jailed under a $3,000 bond.

"My immediate reaction was shock," said Antonio Davis, vice president of the Kernersville Raiders.

Davis says the Kernersville Raiders have been around since 1969, with nothing like what happened Saturday ever previously taking place.

"In this particular incident there are some things that could have been done in hindsight to prevent it," he said.

Following the incident, talks immediately began to determine how to ensure it never happens again. On Monday, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools officials met with Kernersville police to figure out what steps can be taken to improve safety at future events.

Even though the incident took place on school property, it was not a school event, Wilson said. The league contracts out with the school system, then subcontracts for security at the games. They say there were off-duty Kernersville police at the game on Saturday.

"These are adults watching little kids play and yet it gets to the point where there's; number one, a fight, and number two, a weapon there," Wilson said.

The school system will now be laying down universal ground rules for future events on school grounds.

"We're gonna make sure that each one of them have the same kind of guidelines, so that there's not a misinterpretation of what our expectations are on our property," Wilson added. "Some more guidance, and some little stricter rules as to how we want to see security handled."

Kernersville Raiders officials say they are involved in the talks with police and school officials.

"We as an organization will obviously go over and beyond what they ask us to do and hopefully the next time when these kids hit the field, it's beyond as safe as it can be," Davis said.

Although it's too early to say exactly what those steps will be, it's the league's intent to get the players back on the field as soon, but also as safely, as possible.

"Just to hope that everybody comes with the right intent and that's to watch young people learn the game of football and the game of life in a safe environment," Davis said.