Shots fired: Cesar Chavez student records chaos inside school

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Cell phone video shows chaotic aftermath of shooting. Cell phone video shows chaotic aftermath of shooting.
Deric McWilliams, one of the four suspects arrested and charged with gang crimes. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's office) Deric McWilliams, one of the four suspects arrested and charged with gang crimes. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's office)
Shooting outside Cesar Chavez High Shooting outside Cesar Chavez High

Shots fired outside a Valley high school triggered a panic inside during a Friday night basketball game and police say they're looking for the suspect or suspects involved.

Natalie Mendoza was recording video clips of the game between rival schools Cesar Chavez and Fairfax on her cell phone to share on her social media page, then she says the game erupted into chaos.

"Someone screams," Mendoza said. "Everybody started panicking."

The shriek sent everyone running for cover and seconds later, the firearm sent hundreds of high school students rushing for the exits. Students say 10 to 15 shots fired outside the school triggered the panic inside the high school gymnasium.

"People were too scared and panicking that they started running out the doors, and everybody started following them," Mendoza said.

According to students, they knew what had happened even though Mendoza and her friends never heard any gunshots.

Students told CBS 5 News there were rumors that rival gangs, with members at both high schools, were going to confront each other the night of the game. Fairfax student Sarah Meltesen says the schools likely heard the rumors and were aware something dangerous could happen.

"We had to cancel an assembly," Meltesen said. "Apparently [students at] Chavez were going to come to Fairfax and do a shooting."

Since the assembly was canceled, Meltesen says the shooting didn't happen until game night on Friday.

"It was the most frightening night of my life," Mendoza said.

Phoenix police locked down the school, and detectives were questioning a pair about their roles in the shooting. Police wouldn't say if that pair had been released or if they are still in custody.

Parents like Stephanie Scovell rushed to the school when she heard what happened and found dozens of students gathered outside, surrounded by the flashing lights of police.

"You hear as a parent that there's been a shooting in the school, no matter where it is, even if the bullet isn't aimed at your child, it could be fatal," Scovell said. "That's what was going through my mind."

Phoenix Unified Schools officials said they had canceled a pep rally more than a week before the incident because of a threat, but the principal told CBS 5 News school officials did not hear about any threats before Friday night's shooting.

Students said there were extra security and police the night of the shooting.

"Rumors are just rumors, talk and gossip," Mendoza said, "but this one was actually serious."

Police say no one was seriously injured, and so far, no arrests have been made.

School officials say they will have additional officers on hand for security checks on Wednesday night.

For more on this story and other stories around Arizona from this author, follow Shawn Kline on Facebook and Twitter.

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