FARMINGTON — Farmington High School's football team was back on the field Thursday after a drive-by shooting interrupted the end of practice Wednesday night.
Police received multiple calls around 9:10 p.m. Wednesday reporting shots being fired in the vicinity of Hutchison Football Stadium, 2200 Sunset Ave.
Witnesses in the Civitan Golf Course parking lot told police that a light blue passenger car was traveling south on Dustin Avenue when someone from the passenger side of the car fired several rounds from a rifle in the direction of the stadium, said Farmington police Lt. Taft Tracy.
The Farmington High football team was practicing under the lights, and several people were in the stadium stands. No one was injured.
Police said they have no suspects at this time. Tracy said detectives and school resource officers are working together to investigate the shooting.
The players had just finished running sprints and were huddled around a football coach in the north end zone when gunfire rang out.
"Everybody hit the deck," said Brian Farley, a running back and linebacker for Farmington High. "After we were on the ground and the fire and bullets stopped, the coaches got all of us up and we rushed behind a concrete wall where we made sure everybody was OK."
The football players were sent into the locker rooms and their parents were notified, Tracy said.
Several bullets struck the press box. Around 10 shots were fired by a .223 caliber rifle, according to police dispatchers.
Farley said the team remained calm and composed during the incident.
"I felt like we handled it very well. I wouldn't expect football players to freak out," he said. "I think we handled the situation with maturity."
The players and parents are hopeful it was an isolated incident, said Dr. Dan Farley, a local dentist and Brian Farley's father.
"As a parent I'm not overly concerned," Dan Farley said. "I'd hate to let one incident make me overreact and think we have a huge problem and the boys are in jeopardy."
Brian Farley said it was a valuable lesson for team.
"I feel it's something we shouldn't take lightly," he said. "We always need to be ready for an emergency situation."
Quarterback Jacob Lucas said the incident will bring the team closer together.
"It puts things in perspective about how short life can be," he said. "It can be a positive for our team because we saw the importance of every person."
San Juan County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter was at Hutchison Stadium prior to the shooting because his son plays for the seventh-grade Scorpions, who were practicing on the practice field closest to Dustin Avenue. He said the young football team had ended practice about an hour before the shooting.
"We see tragedies, like school shootings, take place all over the country," he said. "It goes to show you we in the Four Corners are not immune to the ill-will of others."
Farmington High Principal Tim Kienitz said a recorded message about the incident was sent to parents Thursday morning. The message described the incident and said school will be conducted as usual with heightened security. The message said staff and counselors would be available to students.
Farmington High School officials declined to comment further for the story and directed questions to the police department. Several other football players agreed to interviews before practice on Thursday, but athletic department coaches cut those interviews short.
Don Lorett, the athletic director, said the media didn't have permission to talk to football players. The football practice Thursday evening was closed to everyone other than the parents of players.
Freshmen started classes at Farmington High on Thursday, and the rest of the students start today.
"There's going to be an increased police presence at the school because of (the drive-by shooting) and because it's the first day of school," Tracy said.
The suspects, if apprehended, could be charged with shooting at or from a motor vehicle.
Anyone with information on the crime is asked to call the Farmington Police Detective Division at 505-327-7701. To remain anonymous, call the San Juan County Crime Stoppers at 505-334 TIPS (8477).Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.