The day after a 16-year-old boy was shot to death at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, families and groups crowded into the Arlington water park on a hot Thursday afternoon.
With towels, sunscreen and children in tow, several parents said they were not especially concerned about the fatal shooting because it appeared to be an isolated event. The victim, who was identified by authorities as Arlington Martin High School student Dai’trell Teal, was shot during a fight in the parking lot of the park at about 7 p.m. Wednesday, according to Arlington police.
Tabitha Huffman, her husband and their four children drove four hours Thursday morning from Fort Smith to visit the park for the first time. Huffman said when she looked up directions to Hurricane Harbor, the news story about the shooting popped up. At first, she was worried.
“But then I read the article and it was more situational from a fight rather than a planned-out shooting for the park,” she said as her husband gathered supplies from the back of their car in the parking lot. “So that’s what made us feel at ease with coming.”
She and her family decided to go ahead with the trip anyway, especially since it was her daughter’s 10th birthday.
Donna Alejandro was also not concerned about the shooting. Her four kids pulled supplies from the trunk Thursday afternoon, and she wondered aloud if her kids might be scared if they knew about the shooting. One of the kids poked her head around the car and said they did, in fact, know about it.
“Oh, well there you go,” Alejandro said. “I feel like it was just an isolated incident. I’m sure the detectives will get to the bottom of it.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Arlington police had not announced they had anyone in custody but they were interviewing people suspected to be involved in the fight. Detectives were starting to zero in on a person of interest in the shooting, police said Thursday, but did not release any other details on the possible person of interest.
Ali Hasan, 19, said his family was worried about him going to the water park with a friend Thursday, and his sister told him about the shooting. His family was worried another shooting might happen, but he was not.
“Stuff happens, you can’t prevent it,” Hasan, who is from Fort Worth, said. “Might as well just have fun.”
Chasidy Collins and a group of 10 to 15 family members were headed inside the park on Thursday. She was not worried about any violence at the park.
“From my understanding, there were kids and they were fighting,” Collins, who is from Dallas, said. “After the pandemic and with kids coming outside, it might get a little crazy.”
Kiarra McClain was at Hurricane Harbor Wednesday evening when she heard gunshots and screams. She started running when other people did. An announcement from Hurricane Harbor told guests to seek shelter in buildings, and lifeguards ushered children inside and helped them hide, McClain said. They were inside for about 30 minutes before they were told police had people in custody.
An off-duty Arlington police officer was working a part-time security job at the park Wednesday when he heard car horns coming from the parking lot, and he walked from the front gate. He saw a group of six to eight people fighting, police said. As the officer began to move toward the group to break up the fight, he heard a gunshot and saw Teal lying on the ground.
Beccy Riley said she knew something was going on when she walked out of the park Wednesday night, but she did not know what. She did not hear gunshots but could see a lot of activity in the parking lot. The sun was in her eyes, so she didn’t clearly see people giving the teen CPR as he lay on a raised plant bed in the parking lot until she and her 7-year-old son were close. She focused on making sure her son did not see anything.
She did not know what happened exactly until she overheard another woman walking out say she couldn’t believe she was present at both that shooting and another shooting at Six Flags Over Texas that happened in March.
“I didn’t want my son to be traumatized so I made sure he was occupied, but I also wanted to make sure I wasn’t traumatized so I was doing my best to be aware but not look at anything,” Riley said.
Riley said she and her family moved to Texas from Essex, England, about four years ago and this is the first time she has witnessed something like this. But it won’t keep her from going back.
“Of course you’ve got to be careful not to put yourself in danger, but you have to keep living your life,” Riley said. “I feel safe going in because of all the security you have to go through. I don’t think It’s more or less safe than anywhere else, really.”