At least two people were killed and 28 wounded in a mass shooting at a street party early Sunday in the US city of Baltimore, police said.
Officials said more than one assailant opened fire at the celebration in Baltimore, a port city about an hour’s drive north of Washington which has one of the highest homicide rates in America.
The motive for the latest chapter in America’s gun violence crisis was not immediately known, and police appealed for anyone with information about who was responsible to come forward.
“Treat this as if it was your daughter, your son, your brother, your cousin that was out here, shot at this event,” said Mayor Brandon Scott.
“We must come together as Baltimore and wrap our arms around this Brooklyn community and each other,” he said, referring to the neighborhood where the shooting took place.
One 18-year-old woman was found dead at the scene and a 20-year-old man died after being taken to hospital, a police statement said.
The victims range in age from 13 to 32, said acting police commissioner Richard Worley. As of Sunday afternoon, all but nine of the 28 wounded had been released from hospitals. Some remained in critical condition.
“Our officers continue to scour the very large crime scene,” Worley said. “This was a huge crime scene. We’re talking about multiple blocks.”
Scott said the incident “highlights the impacts and the need to deal with the over-proliferation of illegal guns on our streets and the ability for those who should not have them to get their hands on them.”
“We will not stop until we find those cowards who decided to just shoot dozens of people, causing two people to lose their lives,” he said.
– ‘Countless’ ways to reduce violence –
With more firearms than inhabitants, the United States has the highest rate of gun deaths of any developed country – at least 44,357 in 2022, including 24,090 suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Sunday’s incident was at least the 338th mass shooting to occur so far this year, according to the GVA, which defines the term as a gun-related incident in which four or more people are wounded or killed.
Earlier this year, Scott penned an editorial in The Washington Post in which he said his city “has over-relied on the three Ps – policing, prosecution and prisons – to reduce violence.”
“An act of violence doesn’t start or end when someone pulls a trigger. There are countless points along the way where we can intervene,” wrote the mayor, who was elected in 2020 on a pledge to reduce gun violence.
That includes access to “behavioral health services, housing support, life coaching, case management and other resources to ensure that a situation never gets to the moment at which a person harms another human being.”
Wes Moore, the governor of the state of Maryland, called the continued cycle of violence “abominable.”
“To the loved ones of these Marylanders, I am so sorry for your loss,” he said in a statement. “You deserve better and we will work together to bring you just that. You have my word.”