Police in Texas are searching for two people suspected of involvement in a mass shooting early on Saturday morning on a crowded Austin street in which 14 people were wounded.
Interim police chief Joseph Chacon said the shooting on a street packed with bars and barricaded off from vehicle traffic occurred at about 1.30am local time and that investigators believe it started as a dispute between two parties.
He said police are searching for two male suspects but he declined to disclose details such as whether both fired shots, saying the investigation was ongoing and the department was working to take them into custody.
“Most of the victims were innocent bystanders, but we’re still sorting out all of the victims to see what their involvement is in this case,” Mr Chacon said.
The mass shooting – one of at least three in the US overnight – sparked panic along 6th Street, a popular nightlife destination in the city that is home to the University of Texas.
One witness, Matt Perlstein, told KXAN-TV that he was waiting with a friend to enter a bar when the shooting began.
“Everything was totally fine,” Mr Perlstein said, then gunfire erupted. “We just heard like ... a bunch of gunshots going off. Everyone got on the ground. We couldn’t even comprehend what was going on at the time.”
Mr Chacon said his officers responded quickly to the scene.
“They were able to immediately begin life-saving measures for many of these patients, including applications of tourniquets, applications of chest seals,” he said.
Sixth Street is a downtown entertainment district in Austin, Texas. File photograph: iStock
Because of the chaos on the barricaded street, police drove six of the wounded to hospitals in their squad cars. Ambulances transported four people and the other four made their own way to hospitals, he said.
Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement thanking police and other first responders and offering prayers to the victims. He said the state Department of Public Safety is assisting in the investigation.
Mayor Steve Adler said on Twitter: “APD and the City Council have initiated multiple violence prevention efforts in response – but this crisis requires a broader, co-ordinated response from all levels of government,” he said. “One thing is clear – greater access to firearms does not equal greater public safety.”– Associated Press