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Kanawha County Commissioner says sports complex will enhance security after shots-fired incident

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DUNBAR, W.Va. (WSAZ) – When shots rang out near Shawnee Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon, chaos and confusion spread to people in every corner of the facility. Micah Malhotra was there watching his son play in a soccer game and says nobody knew what was happening.

“There was a lack of communication all around. There was a lack of information. There was a lack of direction,” Malhotra said.

According to Malhotra, a crowd of people ran across the soccer fields toward the gates in the rear corner of the complex. Those two gates were locked and parents began pushing their children up and over a tall fence to escape the facility. Malhotra is now calling on local officials to take responsibility and make changes to prevent similar circumstances in the future.

“It’s almost as if you’re trapped. You feel like sitting ducks, so instinct kind of kicks in,” Malhotra said.

Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango says he has reviewed video of the events that transpired and believes employees at the facility reacted appropriately.

“When shots were fired, most of our employees went to the front of the park. We had employees on the baseball and soccer sides who were trying to usher people out of the front,” Salango said.

However, Salango says there are aspects of security that will be addressed as a result of Sunday’s incident. Additional gateways will be installed around the complex, and existing gateways will be equipped with a push bar that will not lock people inside the gates.

“We’re going to add a push bar type system that people can access quickly in emergencies that locks as it’s closed on the outside. So, people on the outside can’t get in but people on the inside can get out,” Salango said.

Larger events will include an increased law enforcement presence with additional on-duty police officers in uniform to deter criminal activity. Salango says the intercom systems at the baseball and soccer fields will be upgraded.

“What we need is an integrated system. Either somehow link those up or put in a new system so that we can announce emergencies over the intercom for the entire complex,” Salango said.

During the next few weeks, Salango says they will make sure all employees know and understand all active shooter event protocols.

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