New restrictions at Broward high school football games in wake of shootings

HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - Crowds who attend high school football games across Broward County this season will encounter heightened security and will have to abide by new safety measures that are being enforced after gunfire disrupted games across the state.

7News cameras captured a school band, cheerleaders and exciting plays at a football game in Plantation, Friday night.

It was a scene just like this one that was abruptly interrupted at Palm Beach Central High School in Wellington by the sound of gunshots, Aug. 17.

Two people suffered gunshot wounds and were taken to the hospital.

Friday night, shots rang out at McArthur High School in Hollywood, prompting an evacuation.

No one was hurt.

But on the same night in Jacksonville, a man was killed and two teens were injured as the crowd was leaving the football game between Raines and Lee high schools.

“Rescue [crews] transported a teenage male with a bullet wound to the upper body and a teenage female with a bullet wound in the lower body to a local hospital for treatment,” said a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. “The third victim, a young adult male, died on the scene.”

One week after the Wellington shooting, Broward County officials are enforcing new restrictions for high school football fans.

“They’re not going to pry, they just got to look,” said a coach at the Plantation game as guards checked bags. “It’s an all-new normal now.”

Among the new rules:

  • spectators can only bring clear bags, or bags smaller than 12 inches by 12 inches
  • diaper bags will be searched
  • attendees will require a ticket to enter, and there will be no re-admittance
  • no tickets will be sold after the start of the fourth quarter, to keep coming-and-going traffic to a minimum

At a South Broward High School football game in Hollywood, a concerned mother agreed with the new safety measures.

“I agree; 125 percent I agree,” said Katie Martin. “This is our kids’ safety we’re talking about here.”

But South Broward High student Daniel Noriega said the changes are unjust.

“It’s, like, that’s not fair that we have people change us because of something that happened to a whole different school,” he said.

“So they expect students to go out and get a new bag – for games,” said South Broward High student Hailey Franssen. “I don’t think that’s really fair to the kids. To be honest, if that’s the case, they can check like they do at regular stadiums and things.”

They’re going to be doing that at Broward high school football games, too.

At the Northwestern vs. Miramar game, 7News cameras showed guards using handheld metal detectors.

Broward Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie and Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho both stopped by the game and even posed with Miramar Police officers.

Student Ryan Martin-Fellows approved of the law enforcers’ presence at the games.

“They protect the kids really well, because when they walk in the school [grounds], they don’t have to worry about anyone carrying a weapon around,” he said.

Student Zachariah Eldridge gave the bag check procedure a thumbs up.

“I think it’s right, because you can store a lot of weapons in your purse,” he said.

“They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do,” said Martin. “I mean, it’s a necessary precaution.”

Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.