Two people were killed and 16 others were injured in a mass shooting in Rochester, N.Y., early Saturday morning, according to local authorities.
The city’s police department said the shooting occurred shortly after midnight at an outdoor backyard party and that about 100 people were fleeing the scene when officers arrived.
Police described the two victims who were fatally shot as one male and one female, both of whom they believe were between the ages of 18 and 22. Besides the two people who were killed, 14 others suffered gunshot wounds, and two people sustained unspecified injuries while fleeing the party.
Rochester’s interim police chief, Mark Simmons, said at a press conference that none of the other gunshot victims suffered injuries that police believe are life-threatening.
No suspects are currently in custody, and Simmons could not say if it was clear whether there was more than one shooter. Police urged witnesses to call 911 with any information.
The incident is “truly a tragedy of epic proportions,” Simmons said, noting that he has not seen a crime as serious in his 18 years on the force. “Sixteen victims is unheard of.”
The house party at which the shooting took place was unsanctioned and violated local laws barring large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, but Simmons told reporters that the police had not received any calls about the party prior to the shooting.
The shooting comes as the city grapples with lingering unrest over the release of video tied to the death of Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man, in police custody.
The footage shows Prude being pinned to the ground while a spit bag is placed over his head before he becomes unconscious. He died after a week in the hospital, and his death was ruled a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
Simmons was put in his role after Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (D) announced Monday that she was firing Police Chief La’Ron Singletary.
“For our community, who’s right now going through so much, to have to be dealt with this tragedy, needlessly, for people who decide to act in a violent manner is unfortunate and is shameful,” said Simmons, who added that the department would do everything it could “to bring those people involved to justice.”