At least six people were killed and 10 others wounded in a shooting in the California state capital of Sacramento early Sunday, police said.
A video posted online showed people scuffling in the street, then starting to run as gunfire can be heard. AFP could not verify the footage.
Police said no arrests had been made and the scene remained “active.”
“It was just horrific,” said community activist Barry Accius, who arrived minutes after the shooting.
“Just as soon as I walked up you saw a chaotic scene, police all over the place, victims with blood all over their bodies, folks screaming, folks crying, people going, ‘Where is my brother?’ Mothers crying and trying to identify who their child was,” he told local broadcaster KXTV.
The shooting happened around 2am in the downtown area, just blocks from the state capitol and close to the venue where the NBA’s Sacramento Kings play.
The Sacramento Bee newspaper reported there was broken glass and police investigation markers strewn over two blocks.
Sacramento City police urged members of the public to avoid the area, saying in a tweet that a large police presence would remain at the crime scene.
Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester told reporters that officers on patrol nearby had rushed to the area after hearing gunshots.
“We had a large crowd in the area. We don’t know if it was part of a club or an event,” she said.
Lester said six people had died and another 10 had been taken to hospital with injuries. No one was being held in custody, she said.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said it was difficult to find the right words to describe the tragedy.
“The numbers of dead and wounded are difficult to comprehend,” he said.
“We await more information about exactly what transpired in this tragic incident rising gun violence is the scourge of our city, state and nation, and I support all actions to reduce it.”
It is the latest mass casualty shooting in the United States, where firearms are involved in approximately 40,000 deaths a year, including suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.
Lax gun laws and the right to bear arms have repeatedly stymied attempts to clamp down on the number of weapons in circulation, despite greater controls being favored by the majority of Americans.
Three-quarters of all homicides in the US are committed with guns, and the number of pistols, revolvers and other firearms sold continues to rise.
More than 23 million guns were sold in 2020 — a record — on top of 20 million in 2021, according to data compiled by website Small Arms Analytics.
That number does not include “ghost” guns, which are sold disassembled, lack serial numbers, and are highly prized in criminal circles.
In June 2021, 30 percent of American adults said they owned at least one gun, according to a Pew survey.