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Armed man threatens track and field coach in front of children, police say

Athletes were in prayer circle when gun was pulled out, coach says

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – There was a big scare on the track for some young athletes in Miami Gardens this week when a man showed up at practice armed with a gun and threatened their coach, authorities said.

According to Coach Darius Lawshea, of Miami Gardens Xpress Track and Field, the threat was made as hundreds of kids held hands in prayer and in front of parents who watched on disbelief, unsure of what was happening. 

Lawshea told Local 10 News that he still can’t believe that a misunderstanding nearly ended in a shooting at the track and field practice in Miami Gardens.

Coach D, as he's known, said he was leading a prayer circle with more than 100 of his athletes when trouble showed up. 

"He was like, 'You know what it is. You better not step foot back on Miramar High track field or you're dead,'" Lawshea said.  

Lawshea said the threat came from Charlie Anthony Brown, 33, who is a friend of a former athlete.

"As soon as I seen the gun, I was ready to get the kids away," Lawshea said.

The coach said he told all of the children to run.

The initial encounter happened at Miramar High School. 

Lawshea said he was picking up a track athlete after school when a coach and the ex-athlete asked him to leave. 

Lawshea runs the Miami Gardens Xpress Track and Field Club, and the team had just returned from a meet in Orlando where they won a team trophy. 

"He got very offended because I told him, 'Yo, stop acting like that,'" Lawshea said.  "One of my coaches got him and held him back and asked him, 'You going to do this in front of the kids?' Next thing you know, he ran off." 

An undercover police officer at the practice saw what happened, and radioed the incident to authorities. Brown was later caught. 

Lawshea now worries his athletes -- some as young as 4 -- won't feel safe on the track. 

"Now, I have to find some type of counseling for these kids and it's sad, because we are a very successful program. This is actually our 10-year anniversary," Lawshea said. "No argument should ever lead to gun violence, ever."

The coach is meeting with parents Thursday night ahead of practice to assure them their children are safe. 

Brown was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault with a firearm. He is being held in lieu of a $7,500 bond.