A manhunt is under way after two people were killed and 28 others wounded in a mass shooting at a neighbourhood street party in the city of Baltimore, the latest deadly incident of gun violence in the United States.
The attack took place just after 12:30am (04:30 GMT) on Sunday in the Brooklyn Homes area in the southern part of the city, Richard Worley, the Baltimore Police Department’s acting commissioner, told reporters at the scene.
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Among the 28 who were hurt, about half were under the age of 18, Worley added. Baltimore television station WBAL-TV, an NBC affiliate, reported that the ages of those injured ranged from 13 to 32.
An 18-year-old woman was killed at the scene and a 20-year-old man was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly afterwards. Three people were in hospital in critical condition, with six others also admitted.
The shooting took place as hundreds of people had gathered in the area for an event known as “Brooklyn Day”, featuring pony rides, dancing and refreshments.
No arrests were made immediately after the attack and Worley said police were looking for multiple suspects and to determine a motive for the shooting.
“This is an extensive crime scene, our detectives are going to be here quite a while,” he said.
The shooting probably ranks among Baltimore’s largest single acts of gun violence since 2014 in terms of the number of victims, according to the Baltimore Sun newspaper, which cited the earliest data kept by the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.
The extent of the carnage was notable even for a city that has long grappled with some of the highest levels of murder and other violent crimes in the US.
The shooting comes amid gatherings around the country leading up to the US’s Independence Day holiday, which falls on July 4 and is usually marked with barbecues, fireworks and parades.
Elsewhere in the country, seven people were wounded in a shooting in Kansas, while two people were admitted to hospital after being trampled as people rushed out of a nightclub early on Sunday.
Gunfire ‘going on and on’
Terry Brown, a neighbourhood resident, told the Baltimore Sun he was standing outside his home when he heard gunfire followed by a stampede of people fleeing in panic.
“It was chaos,” Brown said. “Parents were running around looking for their children, hollering and screaming, and don’t know if their child has a bullet in them.”
Lakell Nelson, another resident who was at the party, said there had been several false alarms during the evening with people mistaking the sounds of fireworks for gunfire. However, by the time she was getting to her car, the actual shooting began.
“The shots were just going on and on and on,” the 54-year-old said.
That is when two young women approached her and said they had been shot.
“I kinda didn’t believe them at first because they were walking up the street. I said, ‘Show me’ and the girl was like, ‘I was shot in my butt’,” she said. “When she turned around, I saw the hole through her shorts.”
Another witness told TV station Fox 45 that they heard as many as 30 gunshots.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, speaking to reporters at the crime scene, condemned the shooting.
“This is an absolute tragedy that did not have to happen,” he said. “It again highlights the impacts and the need to deal with the over-proliferation of illegal guns on our streets and the ability for those who should not have them to get their hands on them.
“We will not stop until we find those cowards who decided to just shoot dozens of people, causing two people to lose their lives.”
With more firearms than inhabitants, the US has the highest rate of gun deaths of any developed country – at least 44,357 in 2022, including 24,090 suicides, according to the GVA.
Sunday’s mass shooting was at least the 338th this year, according to the group, which defines a “mass shooting” as a gun-related incident in which four or more people are wounded or killed.
The violence comes as federal prosecutors in Baltimore this week touted their efforts to reduce violent crime in the city. Police reported nearly 130 homicides and nearly 300 shootings so far this year, down from the same time last year.
Baltimore lies about an hour’s drive north of Washington, DC.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES