OREM, Utah – Parents and children were sent into a panic after police said a disagreement between two adults at a youth soccer game in Orem quickly got out of hand.
Multiple people who were at the soccer fields behind Geneva Elementary School on Saturday described the scene as chaotic, with parents grabbing their kids and running.
Someone yelled “gun!” during the game, and those who experienced it said the threat felt very real.
Jesse Ellis was watching his 9-year-old son Aiden play, when an argument broke out on a different field between two adults watching a game.
“From the right side, a dad came running onto the field. His son was playing goalie and he just snatched his kid and started running, and we were all kind of saying, what’s going on, and from behind, we heard somebody scream ‘gun,’” said Ellis. “We jumped up. We grabbed our kids and we started running.”
“I was just confused, so I was like, ‘what are you doing dad?! We’re in the middle of a game!’” said Aiden.
The rumor was that a man was going to get a gun from his car, but he would be back.
For the couple hundred people there, it created a panic of running and screaming as parents hurried to get their kids off the field.
“We were all reacting to our greatest fears,” said Ellis. “Everybody was in crisis. It was fight or flight.”
Once police arrived, the scene quieted down. They said the claim was unfounded and no one was charged, although they wouldn’t say whether the man in question actually had a gun.
For Aiden, it was a scary experience, but it won’t keep him from playing soccer.
“When I think about it, like a chill just goes on the back of my hair, but then after one second, it’s just gone,” said Aiden.
His dad hopes the rest of the kids there will be just as resilient.
“The last thing you want is for somebody to have a negative association to soccer or not be able to participate in something they love because of trauma,” said Ellis.
Aiden’s team met Sunday as a group to talk about what happened. They also brought in a crisis counselor and a police officer to help the kids work through their feelings.