JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There was heightened security at high school football games Friday night following last week's deadly triple shooting outside the stadium at Raines High School in Northwest Jacksonville.
Since the Aug. 24 shooting after the rivalry football game between Lee High School and Raines, Duval County Public Schools announced that high school football games expected to draw big crowds would be moved to either Saturday mornings or Friday afternoons.
There were also talks of increasing security inside high school stadiums and outside the stadiums when people are arriving or leaving the game.
In North Jacksonville, there was a heavy police presence Friday night as the Andrew Jackson football team hosted Englewood High School at its stadium about a mile away from Andrew Jackson High School.
Officers could be seen in parking lots across the street and along streets that run next to the stadium. Some officers were stationed in specific areas, while others drove around.
"That’s better because incidents happen on the outside, as well as the inside," football fan Essie Sabb said. "I think it’s better. It’s better for everybody.”
Prior to kickoff between the Englewood Rams and the Andrew Jackson Tigers, Duval County school district police were made their presence known along the outskirts of the stadium.
Their job was to ensure safety for people walking from their cars to the stadium.
“To see it here now, yes, it puts us more at ease," fan Larry Leonard said.
The heightened security outside high school football stadiums comes exactly one week after a 19-year-old was killed and two other teenagers were wounded in the triple shooting after the Lee-Raines game.
Before fans entered the stadium for the Englewood-Andrew Jackson game, police reminded them to "see something, say something."
“It’s important to say something for all the kids and your own personal safety," fan Steve Thomas said.
Inside the stadium, there were only a couple hundred fans. The crowd was much smaller compared to the one at the Raines stadium last week, but there was still a good number of officers inside making sure fans could safely enjoy the game.
Before fans took their seats in the stands, they had to go through a checkpoint at the entrance to the stadium. Purses and bags were thoroughly checked for weapons by security. Everyone, including small children, was scanned with a hand-held metal detector.
Fans attending the Englewood-Andrew Jackson game said they welcomed the checkpoint at the gate.
“I think it’s well-deserved because these kids need to have fun when they’re out doing their sports and stuff," fan Sandra Howard said.
During the game as fans cheered on the players scoring touchdowns and making tackles, some police officers positioned themselves at every corner of the stadium while other officers walked the grounds keeping a watchful eye for anything suspicious.
“(There's) definitely a large sign of them here," Leonard said.
On Friday evening, there was also visible security at the Atlantic Coast-Bishop Kenny game and the Ribault-Trinity Christian game.
In the wake of the shooting at the Lee-Raines game, school officials have changed the kickoff times for four Duval County high school football games in the interest of safety.
Raines at First Coast and Lee at Westside, both scheduled for Friday, were moved to 10 a.m. Saturday.
The Raines at Ed White game scheduled for Sept. 7 was moved to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6.
The First Coast at Ribault game scheduled for Sept. 21 was moved to 10 a.m. the next day.