By Tony E. Windsor

A family night out turned violent late Friday night after a local man was struck by gunfire at a Laurel bowling center. According to Laurel Police Chief Dan Wright, the incident occurred April 8, at about 11:45 p.m., when police were alerted to a fight in progress at Bryan’s Bowling Center, on Central Avenue. As officers were on the way to respond to the call, they learned shots had been fired.

Wright said officers arrived at the bowling center and discovered that a fight had occurred in the bar area of the center. As center staff were attempting to disburse a large crowd that had been in the bar, a shot was fired and struck a man who had been bowling with his family, but not involved in the disturbance.

The bullet struck the man in his arm and he was treated at TidalHealth emergency room in Salisbury, and released with non-life-threatening injuries.

The man, who asked not to identified, said he has visited the bowling center on a number of occasions with his girlfriend and their three children, ages 5, 6 and 12. He said it has been a traditional Friday night activity. He said he could never have imagined that a night of bowling could result in any type of altercation, much less being shot.

The man said he was with his family bowling when he heard a loud disturbance coming from the bar area. He saw what he described as “a chaotic scene,” with a large number of people inside the bar. “I work in security, so I went to see if there was anything I could do to help the bar staff,” he said. “I was told that they were handling it, so I turned to walk back to where my family was and I heard a loud ‘pow-pow’ sound. I suddenly felt a sting, and a burning sensation in my arm. I did not realize I had been shot. I reached down to where I felt the burning sensation and blood was pouring out from the wound.”

He said others who had gathered nearby helped him out of the bar and into the bowling area of the center. He lost consciousness and was laying on the floor as police and medical personnel responded to the scene.

The man said he feels very fortunate and realizes that his injuries could have been worse. “My girlfriend had been standing beside me, but left just before the shot was fired,” he said. “If she had waited just a few seconds more, the bullet that passed through my arm could have struck her. I also realize that if I had not turned when I did, the bullet could have struck me in the chest.”

While he said that he and his family have enjoyed their previous visits to the bowling center, the shooting victim said this incident has created fear. “My girlfriend is reluctant to go back there,” he said. “My kids are still traumatized from what happened. Someone grabbed my kids and took them upstairs after the shooting occurred. However, before they left, they heard the gunshot and watched as I was pulled out of the bar bleeding. This is something that they are still trying to process.”

The man said he recognizes that the bowling center provides a great opportunity for families and young people to go and have fun, however, he questions if the bar should be available to people who are not also taking advantage of the bowling. “People just come into the bar to congregate and drink, and not bowl,” he said. “I’m not sure how that fits with the family atmosphere of the bowling center.”

Attempts to reach out to Bryan’s Bowling Center for comment were not successful as of press time. Police Chief Wright said the investigation into the fight and shooting is continuing by Laurel Police. He asked that anyone who might have information related to the incident at Bryan’s Bowling Center contact Detective Little at 302-875-2244, or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333.