Football players and cheerleaders return to the Philadelphia Rector Center after kicking off the field

Football players and cheerleaders return to the Philadelphia Rector Center after kicking off the field

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – Kids were back in the gym Thursday night after a shooting that left five people injured outside a Philadelphia park.

The West Philly Panthers and their cheerleaders canceled Wednesday’s practice.

Children were in those fields on Tuesday night when 96 shots were fired at Shepard Park. Fortunately, no children were injured.

“I have a vision. I’m just making sure our girls are healthy, our men are healthy,” said Zenobia Marrero, who gave birth to three children at the theater Tuesday night.

Before practice began on Thursday evening, “Coach V” addressed the tragedy.

SEE ALSO: Police: 5 shot near West Philadelphia rec center; 96 shots were fired

“It’s important that we don’t give up on this and don’t continue with business as usual because all our lives are at stake that day,” the coach said.

Captain Robert McKeever of the 19th Precinct was also on hand and spoke about a police presence during the operation – something the coaches said they had requested in the past.

“Sometimes when the coaches don’t see them, they don’t think we’re there, but we still check them with all the rec areas,” McKeever said.

Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said on Tuesday that the police patrolling the area responded quickly and managed to defeat the SUV used by the bandits.

Three suspects have already been arrested, including Tahmir Pickney, 24 years old; Marlon Sprell, 22; and Azyear Sutton-Walker, 22, of Philadelphia. All three men were charged with attempted murder.

The police are still looking for three more suspects involved in the shooting.

SEE ALSO: IDs charged for 3 cops accused of shooting outside West Philly rec center; 5 were injured

“Since this tragic incident, we will have the officer from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.,” McKeever said.

Police will reassess the security plan in a few weeks.

State Senator Vincent Hughes was also present Thursday night, reminding the children of the funding that will revive the center and the football fields.

“There’s $12 million going into this place to completely transform it,” Hughes said. “Two million dollars is coming from the state and $10 million from the city.”

The coaches are all volunteers, many paying for equipment and travel out of their own pockets to give the kids an athletic experience.

On the night of the shooting, not a single coach ran from the field. Instead, they ran to protect the children.

Now, they are focused on winning and giving these kids the skills they deserve.

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