COCOA, Fla. - Cocoa Police are trying to find a man accused of firing shots at a coach during a youth football practice.
Police say a man punched his ex-girlfriend in the parking lot of Stradley Park during a youth football practice on Tuesday night. A football coach saw the woman getting beat up and rushed over to help when the suspect shot the coach.
Days later, the suspect is still on the loose.
Practice quickly ended when police moved into the park to interview witnesses and figure out how a youth football practice ended in gunfire.
"Here’s this coach trying to defend this lady from this monster who wants to beat her up and then he does that," said Hope Schultz who lives near the athletic field.
Police say the incident happened at the end of football practice, around 8 p.m., on Tuesday.
"It started out as verbal, then it escalated to become physical. The ex-boyfriend punched her. One of the coaches out here intervene, and at that point, guns were brought into the equation here," said Yvonne Martinez who’s the Public Information Officer with Cocoa Police.
The coach was grazed with a gunshot, and no one else was injured. Still, neighbors are nervous.
"Around Cocoa, you hear gunshots all the time," Schultz added. "I mean, we’ve had people shot right down the street from here."
The fields are always full of families, and this situation could have ended in tragedy if a stray bullet had hit a bystander.
"You talk about these things, they can happen anywhere at any time. Unfortunately, in this particular case, there was children at football practice, parents out here," Martinez added. "It was not a good place for this to happen."
A chopper searched for the suspect who ran away from the park on Tuesday night and hasn’t been found. Police aren’t identifying him by name but say they know who they’re looking for and this was an isolated incident.
"I hope they get this guy," Schultz exclaimed.
Cocoa police will have extra patrols at the field during practices and talks are underway to increase safety measures at the park.
"I’m glad that they are spending a little more time in these places," Schultz concluded when learning about the increased security patrols.
FOX 35 did receive a statement from the youth athletic league that was practicing at the park. Cocoa Youth Athletics said, "This was an unfortunate incident that had nothing to do with football. We have addressed the matter with our parents and kids and have moved on towards healing. With the help of our City leaders and LEO our park is a safe place for family, fun, and football."