ST. LOUIS – Grief on the gridiron. St. Louis leaders say a well-known youth football coach was shot several times Tuesday during practice in front of his players.

The preliminary investigation from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department revealed that a 30-year-old coach ended up in an altercation with a 43-year-old suspect moments before he was shot.

The shooting happened at Sherman Park around 7 p.m. Tuesday. Police have not disclosed if the suspect had been known to the coach.

Now 43-year-old Daryl Clemmon has been charged with assault and armed criminal action in connection with this shooting. He turned himself in to the police.

Many residents, in addition to players and parents, are shocked by the shooting.

“I can’t imagine how horrific it is for the players, and they have to go home, and the parents are now trying to come up with answers as to why,” said James Clark with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.  

“I can’t imagine what that scene was like, and how it’s playing again and again in the minds of those young boys,” said St. Louis resident Kayla Williams. “I look out and saw that someone got shot. That’s crazy. I see that man out there in the field every day with them kids.”

In a statement, Evelyn Pebbles, recreation commissioner for the city, wrote, “The City of St. Louis Recreation Division is disheartened by the brazen act of interpersonal violence that occurred Tuesday night at a CityRec Legends Football practice at Sherman Park. Violence in any space is devastating and unacceptable, but especially around our youth.”  

Kenneth Lige was at the park for his daughter’s cheer practice when the shooting happened.

“It’s a darn shame anybody brought a gun to shoot anybody for any reason,” Lige said.

Clark and others are calling for the violence to end.

“We have been doing gun violence de-escalation [training] for many years,” said Clark. “We are in the neighborhoods looking for conflict to address gun violence. We work around the clock to deescalate the conflict.”

“It’s a coach that dedicated his time, but to come out, to get gunned down in front of people,” said St. Louis resident Anthony Ward. “What makes you think it’s OK to do that?”

Police said the investigation is still ongoing. The victim is hospitalized and being treated for critical injuries.

Meanwhile, the city is teaming up with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis to offer counseling sessions to parents and children who may have been traumatized by the shooting.

That’s happening at The Urban League headquarters on Thursday at 1408 Kingshighway from 5:15-7:30 p.m.