California police are looking for gunmen who killed 6 and injured 12 in Sacramento
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The usual crowds filled the streets as bars and nightclubs closed in California’s capital of Sacramento when the sound of rapid gunfire sent people running in terror. Within seconds, the last American shooting had left six dead and 12 injured.
Sacramento police said they were looking for at least two people who opened fire around 2 a.m. Sunday on the outskirts of the city’s downtown entertainment district, anchored by the Golden One Arena which hosts concerts and the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. The team’s home game against the Golden State Warriors went as planned Sunday night and began with a minute’s silence for the victims.
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Police Chief Kathy Lester revealed some details of the investigation and pleaded with the public to share videos and other evidence that could lead to the killers.
“The scale of the violence that has just happened in our city is unprecedented in my 27 years here,” Lester told reporters at a news conference at police headquarters. “We are shocked and heartbroken by this tragedy. But we are also determined as an agency to find those responsible and bring justice to victims and families.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and other city officials have decried the escalating violence in the city while urging people to keep coming downtown for events like NBA games and performances of the Broadway musical “Wicked”.
“We can never accept it as normal and we never will,” Steinberg said of the shooting. “But we also have to live our lives.”
The gunshots broke out just after a fight broke out on a street lined with an upmarket hotel, nightclubs and bars, but police said they were unsure whether the altercation was related to the shooting. Witness video posted on social media showed rapid gunfire lasting at least 45 seconds as people screamed and ran for cover.
The gunshots surprised sleeping guests at the Citizen Hotel, which included a wedding party and fans of rapper Tyler the Creator, who had performed at a concert hours earlier.
From his window on the hotel’s fourth floor, 18-year-old Kelsey Schar said he saw a man running while shooting a gun. She could see flashes of the weapon in the darkness as people ran for cover.
Schar’s friend, Madalyn Woodward, said she saw a girl who appeared to have been shot in the arm lying on the ground. Security guards from a nearby nightclub rushed to help the girl with what looked like towels to try and stop the bleeding.
Police found a stolen handgun, but they don’t know if it was used in the shooting. The dead included three men and three women. Authorities were still working to notify family members and had publicly identified only one victim as of Sunday evening, 38-year-old Sergio Harris, without providing a cause of death. Of the 12 injured, at least four had serious injuries, according to the Sacramento Fire Department.
Sunday’s violence was the third time in the United States this year that at least six people have been killed in a mass shooting, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University. And it was the second mass shooting in Sacramento in the past five weeks.
President Joe Biden called for action on gun crimes in a statement on Sunday.
“Today, America once again mourns another community devastated by gun violence,” Biden said. “But we need to do more than cry; we have to act.”
On February 28, a father killed his three daughters, a chaperone, and himself at a Sacramento church during a weekly supervised visitation. David Mora, 39, was armed with a homemade semi-automatic rifle-type weapon, despite being under a restraining order that prohibited him from owning a firearm.
On Sunday, the crime scene spanned two city blocks, shutting down much of downtown. The bodies remained on the sidewalk throughout the day as Lester said investigators were working to process a “really complex and convoluted scene” to ensure investigators gathered all the evidence possible to “see the perpetrators of this crime brought to justice”.
Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela, who represents the area, said she had received too many phone calls reporting violence in her district during her 15 months in office. She cried at a press conference when she told reporters the last phone call woke her up at 2.30am on Sunday.
“I am heartbroken and outraged,” she said. “Our community deserves better than this.”
Associated Press writers David Klepper in Providence, Rhode Island, and Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles contributed to this report.