An argument among parents over hard hits during a youth football game escalated into a brawl, before a gunshot had terrified children taking cover.
The chaotic scenes unfolded at the West Minnehaha Recreation Center in St. Paul on Thursday evening, during a game between St. Paul Frogtown Football and North Area Titan Football.
A 27-year-old man, Lemar Eugene Anderson, has been charged with threats of violence and carrying a gun without a permit, after he allegedly fired his weapon during a fight between parents.
According to a criminal complaint, parents supporting both teams were getting angry about hard hits happening during the game.
Anderson, who was wearing a Frogtown youth football sweatshirt, told police that a man supporting North Area Titan asked to fight one of the mothers from Frogtown's team.
Anderson's uncle then got involved, starting a fight between him and the North Titan supporter, in which Anderson jumped in to help out.
A gunshot then rang out at the end of the fight when a man later identified to be Anderson pulled a .45 handgun from his waistband, backed away and fired into the air.
The complaint says: "Children and parents were crying. Children lay on the ground and coaches and parents attempted to cover them up to protect them from additional gunfire."
Anderson initially went to police himself, saying he'd heard he had been brought up in the investigation and he wanted to clear his name.
However, he was then positively identified by a witness as the person who fired the gun, and was seen leaving the field with his uncle and driving off in a white Chevy Tahoe.
When he was later questioned, Anderson said he'd seen a parent supporting the other team putting gloves on, and "thought the parent was going to pull out a gun."
He then fired into the air, hoping to defuse the fight, and later hid the gun before taking police to where the hiding place.