PITTSBURGH — Shots fired at a party in Pittsburgh early Sunday left two minors dead and at least eight others injured, police said.
The shooting happened around 12:30 p.m. at a party at a short-term rental property where hundreds of people had gathered – the ‘vast majority’ of them being minors, Chief Scott said Schubert of the Pittsburgh Police Department to reporters during a noon press conference.
Shortly after some sort of altercation, shots were fired inside and out, “and potentially back and forth,” Schubert said. Casings found at the scene indicate handguns and a rifle were used, and police believe there were multiple shooters, Schubert said.
Two male victims died in hospital, police said, and eight others were being treated for gunshot wounds. A police statement initially said nine people were shot and injured, but Schubert revised the numbers at the press conference. The names of the two deceased boys were not immediately released.
Others have been injured jumping from windows, falling down steps or simply trying to take cover or escape, Schubert said. Two who jumped out of windows had broken bones, authorities said. One victim was injured after a car was “shot down”, Schubert said.
ShotSpotter indicated more than 90 shots fired “and we know there was a lot more than that between the inside of the structure and the outside,” Schubert said. Officers who arrived found a “very chaotic” scene with injured victims, medics trying to treat them and people fleeing on foot and in vehicles.
No arrests were immediately reported, but Schubert said “it’s our top priority to find out who did this and get them off the streets.” He said he couldn’t comment on a possible motive, but he hit out at the number of illegal firearms and too many people having access to them as well as the potent mix of alcohol, drugs and firearms .
“It’s heartbreaking; here we are at Easter and we have several families, two who will not see a loved one,” Schubert said. “Others who are going to be – how can you even have a vacation when your child has been involved in something traumatic like this?”
Police were processing evidence at no less than eight separate crime scenes spanning a few blocks around the scene of the shooting. Officials have asked anyone with information, including videos or photographs of people at the party, to send it to authorities.
Allegheny General Health reported that seven people were treated at Allegheny General Hospital and one at Jefferson Hospital for gunshot wounds or other injuries. but officials declined to release their terms or other information.
Neighbor Mitchell Wilston, 30, told The Associated Press that he and his wife were away during the shooting, but before they left they saw the neighborhood packed with people, with cars parked the wrong way round in the street and a queue in front of the rented house.
“It was so obvious there was going to be a problem – there was a line of 14-year-olds trying to get into this place,” he said. The house has been rented out in the past for bachelor parties or other events, or for families of baseball players because of its proximity to the stadium, but no problems arose, he said. .
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Airbnb spokesperson Ben Breit confirmed that the house was rented through the company. He said the booker, who should have been 18 or older under Airbnb rules, received a lifetime ban. Breit’s statement says the party was held without the knowledge of the host, whose listing banned parties and announced a nightly curfew.
Breit said Airbnb is cooperating with authorities: “We share the Pittsburgh community’s outrage at this tragic gun violence. Our hearts go out to all those affected, including loved ones of those who lost their lives, injured victims and neighbours.
In the morning, Wilston found his wife’s white car spattered with blood, possibly from someone fleeing the shooting and trying to hide behind the vehicle, he said.
“It is extremely, extremely disconcerting to see that the way the bullets were fired was perpendicular to our house,” he said, adding that he could see bullet holes in a surrounding building from his office. and in another building from another window.
Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey condemned the violence, which he attributed in part to the failure to get guns off the streets and provide adequate resources to communities. He said the city would convene a meeting with local leaders to get feedback on a new approach to citywide public safety.
“Now is the time for us to act with a sense of urgency to bring justice to the victims and peace to our city,” said Gainey, who is isolated due to recent exposure to COVID-19, in a statement.
Associated Press reporter Ron Todt in Philadelphia contributed to this report.