Wednesday morning was a typical day at the Lake Highlands North Recreation Center — with young families playing at the splash pad, kids taking lessons on the tennis court and summer camps of all varieties set up around the rec center campus. Before long, though, witnesses say they heard six rapid-fire gunshots and saw a man walking on White Rock Trail with an AR-style weapon. Dallas police arrived within minutes and made an arrest. No one was injured.
A preliminary investigation concluded that the man who fired the weapon was actually shooting at a suspect attempting to steal a vehicle, according to police. DPD officials say they are still investigating, and it’s not clear if the shooter was the owner of the vehicle being stolen.
The 19-year-old alleged car thief, Daaron Burns, was located after running from the scene to a nearby vehicle. Turns out it, too, was stolen. He was arrested for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle and taken to jail.
The melee caused quite a stir with families at Lake Highlands North Park, as they grabbed their little ones and scrambled for cover. Some ran into the rec center. Some took refuge inside their cars in the parking lot.
Camp counselors rushed children from the tennis courts and the splash pad into the rec center, where park department employees helped kids remain calm until police gave the all-clear. Nearby, White Rock North School went on lockdown out of an abundance of caution but was quickly back to normal after police assured them the area was safe.
Parents had high praise for those who kept their heads and helped others run to safety during the shooting. One mom, who asked that we not share her name, said she’s grappling now with how to speak to her preschool-aged daughter about the experience.
“I don’t think she understood what was happening in the moment,” the mom said. “She is only 4, so my husband and I are trying to come up with the best way to broach the topic with her. It was a very scary situation, for sure.”
On Thursday, directors of the tennis camp moved their charges to alternate facilities to be on the safe side. Additional DPD patrol cars were seen circling the area around Lake Highlands North Park and LHHS.
Police say it’s wise to make your vehicle a hard target, even if you’re only going inside for just a few minutes to pick up a child from camp. Thieves are watching, and they can steal your bag or boost your car before you can say “summer vacation.” Hide your things, lock your vehicle and take your keys — and leave catching perps to them.