Terror strikes at Friday Night Lights


Nina (far right) and friends at Mariner High School in Everett before they ran from gunshots

Nina Doody

After a long week at school, I was excited to go to a football game with some of my friends from Mukilteo, where I spend my time on the weekends. I was looking forward to seeing them and to having a fun night full of cheering and a traditional run to Dairy Queen after the game.

The football game the night of September 14 was Kamiak High School vs. Mariner High School, the rival game of the season, at Mariner. Kamiak started off with a touchdown during the first play, a huge improvement because the last home game was around 55-0.

It is noteworthy to point out that Mariner High School is located in Everett, WA. While Everett has its safe parts, it also has rougher neighborhoods with increasing gang violence.

I was lucky enough to stand with my friends in the “senior section” of the stadium, which was where most of the fun and cheering came from. We also got to stand next to the marching band as they played along with the cheering and delivered a memorable halftime performance. As usual there were a few police, fire trucks, and ambulances staged around.

It was shortly after half time, and the cheering had just started up again. We were doing the “Kamiak Rumble” when we saw two girls run up to a senior cheering a row or two ahead of us. Their eyes were really big and they looked worried, but because the stadium was so loud with Kamiak cheers, we could not make out was going on.

Upon further listening we heard the word “gun” and “fight.” My friend and I looked at each other, and then we heard a loud pop. At first I thought it was the marching band, that perhaps it was someone who had dropped his or her instrument against the medal stands or something. I looked to my friend and said, “I will go with you if you want to leave.” It was only about ten seconds later when we looked to our right and saw a stampede of teenagers running toward us, because we were closest to the only other exit of the stadium.

We quickly jumped down from standing on the bleachers and started running and pushing people out of the way. You could hear football players yelling to their families, and the announcer trying to make an announcement, but in that moment we forgot to listen to what was going on around us.

We tried to get out of the stands as fast as possible, not an easy task considering there was only one way out that was only about three feet wide. After pushing and yelling at people to run, we made our way out of the grandstands and onto the track.

It sounds dramatic, I know, but we were running for our lives. The moment my feet hit the track I was in shock, and genuinely thought we were being chased by a gunman. I did not look back. In that moment you just run, or at least I did.

Once we had made it into the side parking lot of the stadium I tried to find my friends, screaming their names and trying to get people to seek some form of shelter. I do not think I will ever forget this feeling.

For ten long minutes I hid with other students. After what seemed like an hour, I was able to reconnect with my friends. At this point a few more shots had gone off and we did not know where to go or what to do or whether it was safe. We were all in shock.

Silent tears were streaming down our faces. We tried not be loud in case something were to happen and we needed to hear.

Thankfully, my friend had parked her car in a different parking lot that was around the back side of the stadium, because she was coming from swim practice and all the spots in the original lot were full. We decided we needed to run and get out of there as soon as possible. We just started running, and did not stop until we got to her car.

On our sprint to her car we all tried to call our parents and friends to let them know where we were, what had happened and what we were planning. Although we were still terrified, we got safely to her car, got in, shut the doors and drove as fast as we could out of there.

Ironically, the least safe part of the night was probably being in a car with four teenagers who were all in shock trying to escape a scene with an active shooter.

My Mom had not picked up her phone yet and I distinctly remember leaving her a voicemail that said, “Hi Mom, just to let you know there was a shooting at the football game. I am safe… In my friend’s car headed back to Mukilteo. Love you.” As we rolled up to a stop light in Mukilteo we looked at the car next to us, and it had three football players stuffed in the back with all their gear still on.

News media later reported that the gunshots, just outside the stadium, were gang-related.  Luckily, no one in the whole incident was seriously inquired, and we got home safely.