There are videos that play before each game explaining how to react and exit Nationals Park in an emergency, and it’s something the club has rehearsed in the event of an incident, but, as Washington’s skipper Davey Martinez explained on Sunday morning, around twelve hours after a shooting outside of the ballpark caused chaos inside, you can prepare, but nothing’s quite like actually going through it.
“Yeah, man, these things are often practiced,” the fourth-year skipper said, “... and they go through a bunch of different protocols and safety protocols, but ... you don’t ever think it’s going to happen, but when it does, it’s definitely a different situation. It really is. You’ve got 30,000 fans, you’ve got security workers, you’ve got vendors, you’ve got — there’s tons of people that are out there that you worry about.”
Martinez did his part to help. In the middle of the sixth inning on Saturday night, gunshots reverberated throughout the ballpark when a shooting occurred outside of the Third Base Gate, and in the confusion fans fled the stadium, found cover, and even went on the field, crowding in the dugouts for safety, and eventually leaving the through the tunnel to the Nats’ clubhouse, where Martinez tried to help keep the fans, players, and their families safe. The same thing happened on the other side of the field, where the San Diego Padres and their players did whatever they could to try to keep their families and the fans on that side of the ballpark safe.
Joint Statement by the District of Columbia and the Washington Nationals pic.twitter.com/GyAzMFjd62— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) July 18, 2021
“I thought yesterday, everybody in this stadium, security, handled it really well,” Martinez continued.
“Man, I thank the fans for doing the best they can to stay calm. And it was pretty good.
“Once we found out everything was handled, once I found out that the shooting was outside and I was able to bring the fans in through our clubhouse and get them in a secure place, because ... they were all in our dugout like sardines, and I wanted to make sure that they were safe and comfortable, and they knew that we do care about them, and that’s it. I just want everybody to be safe.”
Events like Saturday night’s make that all a bit tougher to feel safe, obviously, but as the Nationals’ manager said, it’s not just a problem in Washington, D.C., or the area around the park, specifically.
“I hope the fans understand that we were safe inside the ballpark, everything happened outside,” he told reporters.
“Like I said, they did a great job inside the stadium, it was locked up fairly quickly, so I hope that the fans come back and the fans understand that hey, this happens everywhere.
“Unfortunately it’s scary when it happens this close to us, but you know, as you all know, this is not just us, it’s happening everywhere, but I’m glad that everybody is safe.”
Multiple people were injured in the shooting, according to the D.C. Police Department, one a fan attending the game who was wounded.
“For the victims, my heart and prayers go out to them,” Martinez said, “... and I hope the lady — some lady unfortunately got wounded, apparently she’s going to be okay, but my prayers go out to her and her family.”
Asked if fans, players, workers in and around the park, and everyone attending the games should feel safe coming back to Nationals Park, Martinez offered the following emotional, and heartfelt response:
Here's #Nats' skipper Davey Martinez responding to a question about whether fans, workers, everyone who's going to #Nationals Park should feel safe there after last night's shooting outside the ballpark: pic.twitter.com/CrV6t32jPp— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) July 18, 2021
“You know, I love this city, the city is my home,” Martinez said, before a long pause as he tried to compose himself.
“It can get crazy, we all know that, and we want to feel safe. I can tell you that inside this ballpark, I feel safer than ever, I really do.
“We care about each other, we don’t want anybody getting hurt. So like I said, for me, yesterday, I tried to protect as many people as possible.”
A crowd of 33, 232 fans showed up for Sunday’s series finale with the Padres, which the Nats’ skipper and his players appreciated.
The walk-off win snapped a six-game losing streak.
“I think it means more to myself and the players knowing that the fans came back after yesterday, and they were there, and they came to support us and it was huge, it was awesome.
“And like I said before, our players, they feed off of that and it was a good day for all Nats fans and for the Nationals.”