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Shots fired: the inside scoop on the shooting at Yosemite park

Updated: Jan 11

Police vehicles in the cul-de-sac between Eagle Rock High School and the Yosemite pool. Photo by Eden Greene.
What happened on November 17?

These are the events of Thursday, November 17, as these reporters experienced them:

  • During the water polo practice on that day (that these reporters were attending), a group of about twenty teenagers and several younger children walk up to the amphitheater behind the Yosemite pool, on the side of the pool closest to the woods. Twenty to thirty minutes elapse.

  • An initial volley of four shots is heard, seeming to have been fired at the far end of the Yosemite park baseball courts, near the street. A brief pause of about fifteen seconds elapses.

  • A secondary volley of three shots is heard, seeming to have been fired from the amphitheater behind Yosemite pool.

  • Diego Lopez, the lifeguard on tower at the pool, blows a whistle, signaling the water polo team to evacuate the pool and take cover in the locker room. At the same time, the same twenty children from earlier run – as if from something in the amphitheater – down the left (school) side of the pool.

  • ERHS officially goes on lockdown at about 3:59 pm, and are told that "this is not a drill," in an intercom message from Principal Steinorth.

  • 911 is called around 4:00 pm.

  • Helicopters are heard first, overhead, from inside the locker room.

  • Police sirens are heard later. No ambulances arrive to the scene.

  • Based on the Remind messages of school staff, they are notified of the incident at 4:09 pm.

  • The school is released from the lockdown at 4:32 pm, and those at the pool are released within fifteen minutes of the school's release.

  • Night falls by the time all students have left the pool. The police walk the Yosemite baseball field, searching for bullet casings.

This was not a school shooting

Most importantly, the events of Thursday, November 17, were not a "school shooting." From our proximity to the shots, we heard one initial volley of shots in the vicinity of the rec center on Yosemite, and a secondary volley in the woods, in the amphitheater area behind the Yosemite pool. The shots were contained to the side of the block with the Yosemite pool, baseball fields, and rec center, across the cul-de-sac from Eagle Rock High School. The shooting occurred after school hours, and no shots were fired on campus.

The cul-de-sac post-lockdown. Photo by Eden Greene.

Police Statements

"Study hard, be safe, be aware of your surroundings," the on-site LAPD officer we interviewed begins. Due to the severity and sensitivity of the event, the officer was unwilling to provide any official recorded statements. He was, however, able to provide subsequent information: The shooting was a result of gang activity in the neighborhood, and largely ensued on the baseball field of the Yosemite Recreation Center. (He felt inclined to add that "there are a lot of gang families in the area.") Besides that account, three verified statements have been established: One, multiple verified sources, including the LAPD officer, confirm that nobody was injured by the fired shots; two, it is an ongoing investigation; and three, due to November 17th's events, there is increased police patrol for the following day (Friday, November 18).

As we culminated the interview, the officer reminded students to be careful when alone and to always aim to walk with a friend. He added that if you have a cellphone, keep it charged and ready to call 911. The officer reminds us that in events like these, the best way to react is to trust your instincts. "Just react," he says. "There is no one way to react."

Police officers searching the baseball field for bullet casings after the shooting. Photo by Eden Greene.

Lifeguard Statements

The Yosemite Swimming Pool lifeguards on duty were quick to react and protect the members of Eagle Rock's Girls Water Polo Team, and other students in the immediate area. Lifeguard Roberto Morales says that events like these, as terrible as they are, are part of lifeguard training: "We even had this type of topic in [lifeguard] academy." Morales adds how safety, notably prioritizing personal safety, is critical, "I