Borenstein said he quickly realised it was far more serious when he saw people in the stands start filing out and watched Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis jnr “bolt from the field”.
In the stadium’s Diamond Club, where he and his friends were, people were hiding under tables and chairs, thinking there was a shooter inside the stadium.
“People were down on the ground, kind of petrified, trying to calm down the younger kids,” he said.
“I was taken aback, I was scared,” he said.
The Nationals initially announced there had been an incident outside the stadium and posted a message on the scoreboard telling fans to remain inside the stadium.
About 10 minutes later, the team tweeted: “A shooting has been reported outside of the Third Base Gate at Nationals Park. Fans are encouraged to exit the ballpark via the CF and RF gates at this time.”
More than two dozen police cars, ambulances and fire engines were on the street outside the third base side of the stadium and a police helicopter hovered overhead.
The shooting comes as Washington, like many other cities in the US, is facing a rising number of violent crimes and homicides. A six-year-old girl was killed and five other people were wounded in a shooting on Friday night about five kilometres from Nationals Park.
Just hours before Saturday night’s shooting, Washington’s mayor and police chief, flanked by federal law enforcement officials to announce a $US60,000 reward for information in that case.
By nightfall, they had another incident to investigate.
Arman Ramnath, 27, from nearby Arlington, Virginia, and a recent law school graduate, said he and a friend were sitting in the third base side of the Nationals Park when they heard what sounded like fireworks.
“We weren’t sure what it was. Then everyone started ducking,” Ramnath said.
Ramnath said he and his friend ended hiding behind the seats for five or more minutes. After a while people started getting up and leaving, he said, but stadium announcements told fans to wait. Eventually they were allowed to leave.
“It felt very surreal. I wasn’t really sure how to react,” Ramnath said. “I mean, you hear about it … but you never expect it to be something that could affect you.”
Police had initially said they believed one of the victims worked at the stadium, but that was not the case.
The Padres led 8-4 when the game was halted. It will be resumed Sunday afternoon, followed by the regularly scheduled game. Officials said fans should expect to see an increased police presence at Sunday’s game.
Tatis had four hits for San Diego. Ryan Zimmerman homered for Washington.
“Hope everyone is safe!” Tatis posted on Twitter.