Port St. Lucie little league players, parents get group counseling after Sportsman's Park shooting

Noah and his baseball playing peers Aiden, Max and Daniel were four of the about 100 players engaged in two baseball games at Sportsman's Park Wednesday night.
 
Police say around 8:45 p.m., Fort Pierce resident Terry McKeliver Jr., 24, fired a gun just 100 feet away from the kids, killing Margate resident Marcus Samuel, 25. Officers say it happened near the basketball courts.
 
"This may have been... days ago, but I can still hear the fire in my ears," said Noah, 10. He wore a baseball cap with the letters TB, which stand for his Port St. Lucie National Little League team, Tampa Bay.
 
Friday evening, all four of the boys attended a city-sponsored counseling session at Port St. Lucie Community Center, to try to make sense of the traumatic experience they encountered just days before.

"I remember getting the ball to throw it back to the center fielder, and then I thought it was fireworks at first, and then I see everyone running in," said Aiden, 9. He's Noah's teammate, and he was also wearing a TB cap.

"All I was thinking was, 'Every man for themself,'" recalled Noah. He says his teammates ran to the dugout and flattened themselves on the ground.

"And I was like, 'Oh my God. 'What is happening?,'" said Max. "I was having a lot of bad dreams when that happened."

"I'm too young to die" was the message Noah said coursed through his head. The shooting really upset him, and the feelings won't go away. "It's haunting me, and for two straight nights, I couldn't go to sleep," he confessed.

"It's just been hard for me," said Daniel, who's 10.

"I'm still a little scared now, but I will definitely go back to Sportsman's and play," said Aiden. "When you love something, you've gotta stay and you've gotta play."

The little leaguers are not sure what to make of the deadly shooting.

Friday night, with their parents and coaches by their side, they listened to counselors trying to help make sense of what they witnessed. City officials, victims' advocates and trauma dogs were there to reassure the players they do not have to live in fear.

"Just that the field is safe, and the city and police are going to do everything to keep it safe," said little league coach and parent Carl Iken. He said the counseling session comforted him.

The majority of parents and players told us the counseling session did help.

"They really told me what I need to do, to get it out of my mind," said Daniel.
 
By the end of the night, many of the kids were back to themselves. They asked for snacks from the snack machine, played video games and even started an impromptu ball game, outside the front doors of the community center.

City officials who organized the session say they will not reopen the basketball courts, until a safety plan is in place.

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