Citing safety concerns, Plano ISD cancels football game against El Paso high school

Plano school to continue planned outreach, support

By Madeline Holcombe, CNN, RJ Marquez - Digital Content Curator

PLANO, Texas - A Dallas area high school has canceled its game next month against an El Paso area high school over safety concerns in the wake of the shooting at an El Paso Walmart.

The Plano Independent School District announced the cancellation of the second annual out-of -district matchup between Plano Senior High School and Eastwood High School in a Thursday news release. 

"Our students and coaches were eager for this opportunity to come together with Eastwood High to promote a message of compassion and healing, but what should be a celebratory event would be encumbered by safety concerns for the participants and fans of both teams. Our top priority must be the safety of all," Superintendent Sara Bosner said in the release.

It was not immediately clear what the concerns were based upon.

On Aug. 3, a 21-year-old man allegedly walked into an El Paso Walmart armed and opened fire.

According to an affidavit, he told police that his targets were Mexicans. The gunman killed 22 people and wounded 24 more.

Police say he traveled from a suburb of Dallas to commit the attack.

The Dallas Morning News reported the gunman graduated from Plano Senior High School in 2017. 

The game was set to take place Sept. 6 at Plano Senior High School.

The cancellation of the game was discussed by superintendents of both districts, according to the news release.

The district received some backlash after the announcement.

Matt Stepp, a reporter for Dave Campbell's Texas Football, tweeted the news with a caption that read, "this is a missed opportunity to heal and show what Texas high school football is all about. I'm no law enforcement expert, but I'm not sure what the danger in playing this game was."

Eastwood head coach Julio Lopez spoke to KTSM-TV in El Paso about the decision.

“Honestly, this has left a bad taste in all of our mouths," said Lopez. "But also I don't think the timing is right to go back there and play."

Lopez later tweeted his team will play anywhere to fill the vacant week.

While there will not be a game between the two, the teams' booster clubs are working together to promote unity and healing, the release said. 

"Our entire school community felt strongly about showing love and support for the people of El Paso, and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue that outreach," Plano Senior High School Principal Sarah Watkins said.

CNN's Dave Alsup contributed to this report.

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