SACRAMENTO, Calif (AP) — Six people were killed and 12 injured in a mass shooting early Sunday as bars and nightclubs were closing in downtown Sacramento and police in California’s state capital were searching for at least one suspect.
Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester told reporters that police were patrolling the area two blocks from the Capitol at about 2 a.m. when they heard gunfire and rushed to the scene. They found a large crowd gathered and six people dead in the street.
Twelve people who police said were shot and wounded were taken to a hospital or hospitals. The Sacramento Fire Department said four of the seven people transported by its emergency workers were suffering from critical injuries. Authorities said some gunshot victims drove themselves to hospitals or were driven.
Authorities recovered “at least one firearm” from the scene, a police statement said, and urged witnesses or anyone with recordings of the shooting to contact police.
“We’re asking for the public’s help in helping us to identify the suspects in this,” Lester said. Asked if authorities were searching for one or more than one suspects, Lester told reporters that she did not know.
Investigators were reviewing videos from social media that appeared to show an altercation before the deadly incident, the police statement said.
“We are currently working to determine what, if any, relation these events have to the shooting,” the department said in the statement.
Shortly after the shooting, video was posted on Twitter that showed people running through the street amid the sound of rapid gunfire in the city of about 525,000 people located 75 miles (120 kilometers) from San Francisco.
Kelsey Schar, 18, was staying on the fourth floor of Citizen Hotel when she said she heard gunshots and saw flashes in the dark. She walked to the window and “saw a guy running and just shooting,” Schar told The Associated Press in an interview.
Her friend, Madalyn Woodard, said she saw a crowd in the street scatter amid the gunfire and a girl who appeared to have been shot in the arm laying on the ground. Security guards from a nearby nightclub rushed to help the girl with what looked like napkins to try to stanch the bleeding.
Sunday’s violence was the third time in the U.S. this year that at least six people were 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 last five weeks.
On Feb. 28, a father killed his three daughters, a chaperone and himself in a church during a weekly supervised visitation. David Mora, 39, was armed with a homemade semiautomatic rifle-style weapon, even though he was under a restraining order that prohibited him from possessing a firearm.
Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, who represents the area where the shooting happened, said she’s fielded phone calls reporting many violent incidents in her district in the 15 months she’s been in office.
Valenzuela cried at a news conference as she told reporters that the latest phone call woke her up at 2:30 a.m. Sunday with details about the latest tragedy.
“I’m heartbroken and I’m outraged,” she said. “Our community deserves better than this.”
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg decried rising gun violence at the news conference and said city officials would support the victims. He said the city has worked hard to attract people back to its downtown since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that despite the shooting, the city was safe.
“This morning our city has a broken heart,” Steinberg said. “This is a senseless and unacceptable tragedy.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement that his administration was working closely with law enforcement.
“What we do know at this point is that another mass casualty shooting has occurred, leaving families with lost loved ones, multiple individuals injured and a community in grief,” he said.
The area where Sunday’s shooting occurred is packed with restaurants and bars. Nightclubs close at 2 a.m. and it’s normal for streets to be full of people at that hour.
Kay Harris, 32, told AP she was asleep when one of her family members called to say they thought her brother Sergio Harris had been killed. She said she thought he had been at the London nightclub, which is near the shooting.
Harris said she has been to the club a few times and described it as a place for “the younger crowd.” She spent the morning circling the block waiting for news.
“Very much so a senseless, violent act,” she said.
Pamela Harris, Sergio Harris’ mother, told The Sacramento Bee the family has not heard from him yet.
“We just want to know what happened to him,” Pamela Harris told the newspaper. “Not knowing anything is just hard to face.”
Berry Accius, a community activist, said he came to the scene shortly after the shooting happened.
“The first thing I saw was like victims. I saw a young girl with a whole bunch of blood in her body, a girl taking off glass from her, a young girl screaming saying, ‘They killed my sister.’ A mother running up, ‘Where’s my son, has my son been shot?’“ he said.
UC Davis Medical Center received four patients from the downtown shooting, spokesperson Stephanie Winn said. She declined to provide their genders or conditions, referring media inquiries to police.
Ten ambulances and fifty first responders from the Sacramento Fire Department responded to the shooting, according to Capt. Keith Wade.
This version corrects that four patients from the shooting, not five, were transported to UC Davis Medical Center.