At least two shooters opened fire early Sunday in Sacramento in the city’s second mass shooting in five weeks, killing six people and injuring 12 others as bars closed for the night and crowds emptied into downtown streets, police said.
Three men and three women were killed, police chief Kathy Lester said. Their bodies lay on the sidewalk for hours after the gunfire broke out around 2 a.m. Police searched for clues at a crime scene that spanned several blocks as they searched for the shooters.
At least four of the injured were hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. Authorities have not identified any of the victims or offered a possible motive.
Investigators sifted through hundreds of pieces of evidence – most of which were documented on the streets with blue and yellow markers – as officials pleaded with the public for tips and videos that could help track down the suspects.
Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela, who represents the area, said she received numerous phone calls reporting violence in her district during her 15 months in office. She cried at a press conference, telling reporters the last phone call woke her up at 2.30am.
“I am heartbroken and outraged,” she said. “Our community deserves better than this.”
Sunday’s violence was the third time this year in the United States 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.
Sacramento has suffered two mass shootings in the past five weeks. 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.
The area where Sunday’s killings took place is on the outskirts of the city’s main entertainment district and has many bars and restaurants. It’s anchored by the Golden One Center which attracts big-name concerts and is home to the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. City officials have invested heavily in the area to promote development.
Videos on social media showed what appeared to be an altercation before the shootings in the Californian capital. sergeant. Zach Eaton, a police spokesman, said they “don’t know if this fight actually led to the shooting.”
Kelsey Schar was staying on the fourth floor of the Citizen Hotel when she said she heard gunshots and saw lightning in the dark. She walked to the window and “saw a guy running and just shooting,” Schar told the AP.
Her friend, Madalyn Woodard, said she saw a crowd in the street disperse amid gunfire and 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.
A video posted to Twitter showed people running down the street to the sound of rapid gunfire. Nightclubs close at 2 a.m. and it’s typical for the streets to be full of people at that time in the city of about 525,000 people, located 120 kilometers from San Francisco.
Pop duo Aly & AJ performed at the Crest Theater in Sacramento on Saturday and their tour bus was caught in the gunfire, the musicians said on Twitter. No one in their tour group was injured, the tweet read.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement that his administration was working closely with law enforcement officials.
“What we do know at this point is that another shooting resulted in numerous casualties, leaving families with lost loved ones, multiple people injured and a grieving community,” he said.
Kay Harris, 32, told the AP she was asleep when a family member called to say he believed her brother Sergio Harris had been killed. She said she thought he had been to the London nightclub, which is close to the shooting.
Pamela Harris, Sergio Harris’ mother, told The Sacramento Bee the family has not heard from him since the shooting.
“We just want to know what happened to him,” she said. “Not knowing anything is just hard to face.”
Berry Accius, a community activist, said he came to the scene shortly after the shooting.
“The first thing I saw was like casualties. I saw a young girl with a whole lot of blood in her body, a girl taking glass away from her, a young girl screaming saying, ‘They killed my sister. A mother came running up: ‘Where is my son, was my son shot?’ “, he said.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg said in recent years that “it’s been a very difficult time in downtown Sacramento” as the city’s development efforts have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
He added that the shooting “gives a break to our whole community”, but he urged people to keep visiting the area.
Associated Press writers David Klepper in Providence, Rhode Island, and Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles contributed to this report.