By SARAH BLAKE MORGAN Associated Press/ BNC Contributor
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Two people were killed and seven others were wounded early Monday when multiple people fired into a crowd at an impromptu celebration in North Carolina, police said. Five others were hit by vehicles.
The shooting happened at an impromptu block party in Charlotte that was a continuation of Juneteenth celebrations, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Deputy Chief Gerald Smith said at a media briefing Monday.
About 400 people gathered on the north side of the city when someone in the crowd was struck during a hit-and-run accident, Smith said. Police responding to the scene heard shots being fired. Police believe more than one person fired weapons because videos recorded sounds from guns of different calibers.
Authorities recovered around 100 casings from the scene.
Smith said no motive was clear for the shooting.
He said the situation grew so chaotic after the arrival of authorities early Monday that a rescue team had to be sent into the crowd to pull people “off the backs of our firefighters” who were treating people hurt at the scene.
Smith also acknowledged that some officers had weapons drawn as they sought to gain control of the scene.
“They were doing the best that they can to make sense out of something that is chaotic, a mass casualty scene,” he said.
Smith said that no witnesses have come forward to describe how or why the shooting started and urged the public to help with the investigation.
“We have no witnesses that have come forward,” he said. “Out of the 400 people there, someone saw something.”
No one was in custody by late morning.
A female shooting victim was pronounced dead at the scene, a news release said. Her age and identity weren’t released. Another victim was pronounced dead at a hospital; no further information about the second fatality was released. Of the other seven who were shot, three had life-threatening injuries, Smith said.
The five people hit by vehicles are believed to have suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, police said in a news release. Four of them appear to have been struck while trying to leave the scene.
Juneteenth, for which celebrations started Friday, commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free 155 years ago.