PLEASANTVILLE — Nina Mitchell was getting out of her car Friday night at Pleasantville High School when she saw students sprinting from the football field.
She ran in the opposite direction of that mass of people, jumping two fences to get to the field.
The off-duty detective with the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, who is also a nurse, began administering first aid to the adult victim of the gunfire that erupted in the bleachers moments before.
Ibn Abdullah by that point was on the field in front of the home field bleachers with gunshot wounds.
Mitchell didn’t think of her own safety, she said Tuesday.
“All I could think of was get in there and help, get in there and help,” said Mitchell, 38, of Egg Harbor Township. “All I could hear was people yelling, ‘They’re shooting. They’re shooting.’ And just kids screaming help, crying, yelling. I saw people carrying people, pulling people by their arms.”
Pleasantville and Camden will finish their high school football playoff game at the home of …
Mitchell’s account of the terror that gripped the record crowd and the teams on the field in the third quarter of Pleasantville’s state playoff matchup with Camden High School on Friday night was highlighted by Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner in a news conference Tuesday afternoon at the field.
Tyner said Mitchell and Pleasantville police Officer JonMarshall Robinson, who arrested the suspected gunman, Alvin Wyatt, exemplified heroism in their split-second decision to rush toward what others were running from.
“For all of those that were retired, or off-duty emergency responders, that did not forget their role and ran toward the gunfire and toward the victims to provide aid, they just did an incredible service to our community,” Tyner said, “and we owe them a great debt of gratitude.”
Unlike Mitchell, Robinson was on duty and had stopped at the game to catch the action. Robinson received a short description of the suspect, scanned the crowd and saw a man in the midst of those fleeing.
“It was like an out-of-body experience,” said Robinson, 28, of Egg Harbor Township. “For some odd reason, he just stood out. He was just running faster than everybody else, wasn’t looking back. It didn’t look like he was running for safety when I approached him.”
Robinson caught up with Wyatt near the goalposts and ordered him on the ground.
“Once he saw that I was an officer and I had my weapon out, he really complied,” Robinson said. “He was like, ‘What’s going on? What’s going on?’ I was like, ‘You tell me. I got a description, and you matched it.’”
Wyatt, 31, of Atlantic City, was charged with three counts of attempted murder, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, according to affidavits of probable cause. A 15-year-old suffered a graze wound and was treated and released. A 10-year-old boy was hit in the neck and remains in critical condition at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, Tyner said Tuesday, describing his status as “touch and go.”
Abdullah, 27, of Atlantic City, was the alleged target, prosecutors said. He suffered critical injuries and was charged with first-degree unlawful possession of a handgun and certain persons not permitted to possess a handgun after police found a 9mm handgun in his waistband, the affidavit states. Shahid Dixon, 27, Michael Mack, 27, and Tyrell Dorn, 28, all of Atlantic City, and Vance Golden, 26, of Pleasantville, were charged in the shooting after leaving the game, according to affidavits.
“You can never quite be prepared for an incident such as this one when it occurs,” Tyner said. “Without that swift action, without that collaboration, we simply would not have been able to wrap this case up as quickly as we did on that evening.”
Robinson left in the middle of the game to respond to a call offsite and returned about five minutes before shots rang out.
“I was here, and luckily I was here, and I’m sure if I wasn’t then someone else would have caught him as well,” Robinson said.
Asked about the amount of security and police officers typically on duty during a football game, Tyner declined to comment on the evening’s police assignments.
“Suffice it to say that the school district had security on-site and there were Pleasantville police officers on site,” he said.
Camden was leading 6-0 when the game was cut short with 4 minutes, 58 seconds left in the third quarter. The teams will finish the game Wednesday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
“I believe this entire community is thankful to the Eagles organization for stepping up and giving these kids an opportunity to create a different memory other than that which occurred this past Friday,” Tyner said.
Mitchell’s husband is a coach with Pleasantville. She met up with him in the parking lot after Abdullah was taken by an ambulance.
“He walked back out and was like, ‘I didn’t even know you were here,’” she said. “Because it was supposed to be a surprise. I actually was coming to surprise him at his game.”
Staff Writers Molly Bilinski and Lauren Carroll contributed to this report.
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