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USWNT’s Williams, Dunn share emotions after ‘devastating’ Auckland shooting before WWC

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Players from the U.S. women’s national team expressed their condolences for the victims of a deadly shooting on Thursday near their team hotel, adding they remain focused on their Women’s World Cup campaign.

Three people were killed in the incident, including the gunman, according to New Zealand police.

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“There wasn’t really a conversation had. Unfortunately, I feel like in the U.S. we’ve dealt with this far too many times,” USWNT forward Lynn Williams said at a news conference.

“But there was definitely a sense of, like, ‘let’s come together, we still have a job to do,’ but also recognizing that there were lives lost and that is very real and very devastating.”

The incident occurred shortly before 8 a.m. local time, and USWNT players at the time were in the hotel starting to assemble for breakfast, a U.S. Soccer spokesperson said.

U.S. Soccer’s security team was immediately in touch “with the local authorities and the department of state,” and quickly determined all players were safe and accounted for.

Police said the incident was contained to a construction site in one building, which was close to the USWNT’s hotel as well as the fan zone, which didn’t open as planned on Thursday as police secured the area.

Because the players were unable to leave their hotel, their morning training was delayed, as was a planned news conference scheduled to take place later Thursday.

“We were just thankful that we were safe, that the first responders and everything was handled very quick,” Williams added. “Our security team was very swift to say, ‘Look, you can’t go anywhere.’

“I think there was just a sense around the team that we recognize this is devastating. And then once we were able to go to training, we were like: We have to focus on the job at hand.”

Thursday’s opening game of the Women’s World Cup between New Zealand and Norway went on as planned with a moment of silence for the victims taking place before kickoff at Eden Park Stadium. Officials said there would be an increased security presence in response to the incident.

The USWNT will open Friday against Vietnam in Auckland.

FIFA said Thursday that “participating teams in close proximity to this incident are being supported in relation to any impact that may have taken place.”

U.S. defender Crystal Dunn said the team was supporting each other for however they wanted to process what happened.

“This is very real and our condolences are with the families of the victims and the lives that were lost,” Dunn said.

“Everyone handles these situations differently. So it’s important to give people the space that they need to work through obviously the trauma that has occurred today but understanding that we’re a unified team.

“We give people the space that they need and hopefully we’re able to get on the pitch and just have herself a kick around and just try to be connected again in a tough day.”


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