YAKIMA, WA - Two weeks ago, a shooting broke out in a north Yakima neighborhood. It happened across the street from Barge-Lincoln Elementary School.
Thankfully, school was not going on at the time. However, there were dozens of kids, coaches, and parents for the North East Thunder Football Teams' football practice.
Coaches are now using the terrifying experience as a teaching moment, but not just for the kids.
Two officers from Yakima Police Department's Gang Unit came out to a practice to try and calm some of the parents' concerns, but also to have fun with the kids.
Head Coach James Sartain is challenging local police to get out of their patrol cars more to talk to kids, especially in neighborhoods where they're seen more as an enemy.
"Which way did we go? Which way are the cops going? You guys understand that?" Sartain said to his players. "They're running towards that, we're running away from it. If we didn't have them, think about what it would be like. So when they're here, you should let them know, 'thank you.'"
Officers Garza and Jones had a lot of fun playing football with the kids.
Coach Sartain is hoping YPD will do more patrols around practices across Yakima, but unfortunately that hasn't happened yet. The smoke and bad air quality has canceled a lot of practices and games. They are expected to be on the field tomorrow for practice.
Meanwhile, Sartain says that the Thunder have been practicing at the elementary school for 18 years, and intends to stay there. Most of the players are from the surrounding neighborhoods.