Birmingham police are asking witnesses to come forward with more information about the deadly shooting at Railroad Park.
The victim, 15-year-old Jarmaine Walton, was shot in the head near the jungle gym area around 7:20 Sunday night. He died early Monday morning at the hospital.
Witnesses say the park was crowded but calm in the hours leading up to the shooting.
"People throwing Frisbees, people over in the water, dogs everywhere, just people having fun," said James Jacobs, who left just an hour or so before the shooting. "It wasn't raining, it wasn't cold, it was just a nice place for people to come and relax and spend the rest of their Sunday evening."
Jacobs says he saw plenty of police, an account confirmed by a friend of the victim's who witnessed the shooting but didn't want to go on camera.
That friend told us Walton was near this jungle gym walking with three other friends when someone fired six shots.
Walton's friend says he believes the shots came from the skate park area, where he says 50-60 people were gathered, members of two rival factions. He says Walton wasn't part of either group and probably wasn't the intended target.
Birmingham police confirm they had officers in the park at the time and that they are hoping security camera video will help them track down the shooter.
"We're going to use every tool we can to help with this investigation," Birmingham Police Sgt. Johnny Williams said. "That includes public help, any cameras that were in the area, anybody that may have seen something suspicious prior to the shooting."
The jungle gym where Walton's body was found is just yards away from the construction crews that are scrambling to finish the new $63 million Regions Field.
The ballpark and Railroad Park are major public investments to try to revitalize this area.
"You look around it just seems like a nice peaceful park, you wouldn't think something like this would happen," Jacobs says.
But for Jacobs, that's changed.
"It just makes you feel like you can't even come downtown to a nice park like this and enjoy the rest of your Sunday evening, or any other day for that matter," Jacobs said. "It just doesn't make you feel safe at all."
That is not what city councilman Johnathan Austin, who represents this district, wants to hear.
"Anytime you have any incidents like this occur, regardless of where they happen, it's not any less tragic," Austin said. "The important thing we want to remember is we want to protect our citizens."
Austin knows this murder may make some would-be Barons fans think twice about coming downtown for a game, but he said, "I think people will still be able to come and enjoy RailRoad park and the amenities surrounding the park at the Parkside District."
"We don't want crime to happen anywhere in the city," Sgt. Williams said. "It just focuses on this venue because it's new and just opened, a lot of people are putting focus on that park. But it could've happened anywhere thoughout the city. Of course our job is to deter it wherever it happens throughout the city," he said.
Birmingham Police want the public's help to ID a suspect. If you were at the park or know anything, please call BPD Homicide Unit at 205-254-1764 or Crime Stoppers at 205-254-7777. You can remain anonymous.
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