From Adam Bima
SACRAMENTA, Calif. (AP) – At least two gunmen opened fire Sunday in Sacramento in a second mass shooting in the city in five weeks, killing six people and injuring 12 when bars closed overnight and crowds came out on a downtown street, police said.
Three men and three women were killed, police chief Katie Lester said. Their bodies remained on the sidewalk a few hours after the shooting began at about 2 a.m. Police were looking for clues at the crime scene that stretched across several neighborhoods as they searched for the shooters.
At least four of the wounded were hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. Authorities did not identify any of the victims and did not suggest possible motives.
Investigators looked at hundreds of pieces of evidence – most of them documented on the streets with blue and yellow markers – when officials asked the public to provide advice and videos that could help find the suspects.
Council member Katie Valenzuela, representing the area, said that during her 15 months in office, she had called with numerous reports of violence in her area. She cried at a news conference when she told reporters that the last phone call woke her up at 2:30 p.m.
“I have a broken heart and I’m outraged,” she said. “Our community deserves better than that.”
According to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University, Sunday was the third time this year in the U.S. that at least six people have been killed in mass shootings.
In a Sunday statement, President Joe Biden called for action against gun crimes.
“Today, America is mourning another community devastated by gun violence,” Biden said. “But we must do more than mourn; we must act. “
In the last five weeks, Sacramento has experienced two mass shootings. On February 28, a father killed his three daughters, a companion and himself in the Church of Sacramento during a weekly supervised visit. David More, 39, was armed with a homemade semi-automatic rifle-style weapon, although he was under a travel ban that barred him from owning a firearm.
The area where the Sunday killings took place is on the outskirts of the city’s main entertainment district and has many bars and restaurants. It is anchored at the Golden One Center, which attracts famous concerts and is home to the Sacramento Kings NBA. City officials have invested heavily in the area to promote development.
A video on social media showed what seemed to be a quarrel before the shooting in the California capital. Sergeant Zach Ethan, a police spokesman, said investigators did not know whether the fight led to the shooting.
Kelsey Shar was staying on the fourth floor of the Citizen Hotel when she said she heard gunshots and saw flashes in the dark. She went to the window and “saw a guy running and just shooting,” Shar told the AP.
Her friend Madeline Woodard said she saw a crowd in the street scattering amid the gunfire, and a girl who appeared to have been shot in the arm while lying on the ground. Guards from a nearby nightclub rushed to help the girl with wipes to stop the bleeding.
A video posted on Twitter shows people running down the street to the sounds of rapid fire. Nightclubs close at 2 a.m., and in a city of about 525,000 people located 75 miles (120 kilometers) from San Francisco, the streets are usually crowded at this time.
Pop duo Aly & AJ performed on Saturday at the Crest Theater in Sacramento, and their tour bus came under fire, the musicians said on Twitter. None of their tour group was hurt, Twitter said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement that his administration is working closely with law enforcement officials.
“At the moment we know that another mass shooting took place, as a result of which families with lost loved ones, several people were injured and the community in grief,” he said.
Kay Harris, 32, told the AP she was asleep when a member of her family called to say they thought her brother Sergio Harris had been killed. She said she thought he was at a London nightclub close to the shooting.
Pamela Harris, mother of Sergio Harris, told The Sacramento Bee that the family had heard nothing about him since the shooting.
“We just want to know what happened to him,” she said. “Without knowing anything, it’s just hard to face.”
Public activist Berry Aktus said he came to the scene immediately after the shooting.
“The first thing I saw was as a victim. I saw a young girl with a whole bunch of blood in her body, a girl taking off her glass, a young girl screaming and saying, “They killed my sister.” The mother ran up: “Where is my son, my son was shot?” He said.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg said in recent years “there has been a very difficult time at the heart of Sacramento” as the city’s development efforts have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
He added that the shooting “gives a pause to our entire community”, but he urged people to continue visiting the area.
Associated Press writers David Clapper of Providence, Rhode Island, and Stephanie Dazio of Los Angeles contributed to this report.