What to Know
- Off-duty officer heard car horns, saw a fist fight before fatal shot fired.
- Victim identified as 16-year-old Arlington Martin High School student Dai'trell Teal.
- Investigation into the shooting is ongoing Thursday.
A 16-year-old boy shot and killed Wednesday evening near the Hurricane Harbor water park entrance was a student within Arlington ISD who was shot in the back.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as Dai'trell Teal. The Arlington ISD said Teal would have been a junior at Arlington Martin High School in the fall.
Teal was shot shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday as the park was closing for the day. The circumstances that led to the shooting have not yet been revealed by the police.
Arlington police said an off-duty officer who was near the water park heard honking in the parking lot and then noticed six to eight people involved in a fistfight. According to Arlington Deputy Chief Christopher Cook, the officer then heard one gunshot and saw cars speeding away.
Moments later the officer saw a person on the ground in the parking lot. The victim was transported to Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.
Derrin O'Neill of Dallas said he, his girlfriend, and two other friends were inside the park when the shooting happened. Initially, they thought the gunshot was the sound of a car backfiring.
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"We see people running back into the park and people were like slipping over the hill and the bridge. One girl smacked her head," O'Neill said. "Everyone thought it was an active shooter, so the park employees had us herd in the back of the park behind. I think it was a maintenance building. Next thing you know, one of the employees says 'the shooter’s coming this way.'"
Arlington police clarified in a tweet just before 8 p.m. Wednesday there was no active shooter and officers had detained several people at the scene who were interviewed to determine if they had any involvement in the shooting.
As of Thursday afternoon, no one has been arrested or charged in connection to this incident and it remains under investigation. Police have not said what started the fight or if it was related to the shooting.
Before Teal's name was released publicly, the Arlington Independent School District confirmed Thursday that the victim was a student in the district.
"With a heavy heart, the Arlington ISD reports that one of our students was shot and killed last night outside of Hurricane Harbor, an Arlington water park. Out of respect for the family involved and the minor status of the student, the Arlington ISD will not release the student’s name or school until we are sure that all family members have been notified of the loss," said Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, superintendent of the Arlington ISD.
After learning of the teen's death, Six Flags, which owns the water park, said their "deepest sympathies are with the family."
Guests like O'Neill question how the situation was handled.
"Mothers were screaming, like…where are my kids? No employees were trying to help at all. They were just like, 'I don’t know what to tell you, sorry'," he said. "We asked some of the employees and they were like, 'I don’t know…we have never been trained or advised on what to do'. As sad as it was, everyone was doing the best they could with the situation that was going on."
NBC 5 reached out to Six Flags Over Texas for a comment regarding O'Neill's concerns. In an emailed statement, we were told, "Hurricane Harbor uses advanced security screening and has safety protocols in place to protect our guests and team members. We appreciate the Arlington Police Department’s quick response and the efforts of our park security team and EMTs."
In a follow up email, NBC 5 asked whether the park plans to review any of the protocols in place or training for employees in light of the shooting Wednesday night. We have not heard back as of this writing.
The Arlington Police Department asks anyone who may have witnessed the shooting or has any information about this case to come forward and report it to Detective Simmons 817-459-5735. Tipsters can also remain anonymous by contacting Tarrant County Crime Stoppers at 817-469-TIPS.