MANSFIELD (CBSDFW.COM) – Panic broke out at a playground in Mansfield on Memorial Day after a man pulled out a gun. The incident happened at Katherine Rose Memorial Park. The man’s family said that he was only protecting himself after being physically assaulted.
“The way it escalated went pretty quick,” said Sergio Benitez, who captured video of the man holding the gun as people ran for cover. Benitez said that he pulled out his phone expecting a fight to break out. “As soon as I hit play to record, that’s when he pulled out the gun.”
Juan Servin explained that the fight started over his 5-year-old daughter, Juliana. She hit another girl on the playground, said Servin, and the other child’s father stepped in. “He was calling her a stupid r***** kid, and my daughter has Down Syndrome,” said Servin, wiping away tears.
Servin stated that he approached the other father, trying to resolve things calmly. “He tells me, ‘You better walk away.’ All he’s trying to do is make me more mad,” he said. Servin did walk away, however. It was his brother-in-law, Servin added, who then lost his temper and confronted the other father again.
“The guy was furious. He was ready to pound his face,” said Benitez.
Witnesses stated that Servin’s brother-in-law slapped the other father. A press release from the Mansfield Police Department said that he then “lifted him to his feet from a seated position by his shirt.” The man’s family said that he pulled out the gun in self-defense.
“Everyone went into panic mode. A lot of people ducked. A lot of people ran,” said Benitez. He then spotted his own 2-year-old child walking toward the men and raced to grab her out of harm’s way. “I’m very angry because of that,” he added, “what could have happened.”
Benitez said that he blames both men for what happened, but mostly the man who pulled out a gun, just feet away from a busy playground. “That bullet could have gone anywhere, in any direction,” Benitez said.
After seeing the gun, Servin said that his brother-in-law backed away. But the weapon was still pointing at him and his family as they left the playground. They were gone before the gun was put down. “If he had shot my kids or my family, it would have been over for us,” Servin said. “We can’t lose a family member over something so dumb as that.”
Police confirmed that the man with the gun did have a valid license to carry. And the second man was not at the park when the authorities arrived at the scene. The Mansfield Police Department is still working to positively identify that individual so that “appropriate charges are pursued.”