PITTSBURGH — Shots fired at a house party in Pittsburgh early Sunday left two minors dead and at least eight more people wounded, police said.
The shooting happened around 12:30 a.m. during a party at a short-term rental property where hundreds of people had gathered — the “vast majority” of them underage, Chief Scott Schubert of the Pittsburgh police department told reporters during a noontime news conference.
Shortly after some kind of altercation occurred, gunshots were fired both inside and outside, “and potentially back and forth,” Schubert said. Schubert indicated that the police believed there were several shooters. Schubert also said that one and handguns were found on the scene.
Police said that two male victims were killed at the hospital and that eight others were receiving treatment for gunshot wounds. Initial police reports stated that nine victims had been killed by gunfire. However, Schubert changed the number at the press conference. The names of the two boys who died weren’t immediately released.
Schubert stated that others were hurt jumping from windows or falling down stairs, or simply trying to escape or seek shelter. According to authorities, two people who fell from windows suffered broken bones. One victim was injured after a car was “shot up,” Schubert said.
ShotSpotter indicated more than 90 rounds fired “and we know there was a lot more than that between inside the structure and outside,” Schubert said. Arriving officers 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 is our top priority to find out who did this and get them off the street.” He said he couldn’t comment on a possible motive, but he decried the number of illegal guns and too many people with access to them as well as the potent mixture of alcohol, drugs and guns.
“It’s heartbreaking; here we are at Easter and we have multiple families, two that won’t see a loved one,” Schubert said. “Others that are going to be — how can you even have a holiday when your child was involved in something traumatic like this?”
The police were processing evidence from eight different crime scenes that spanned a couple blocks surrounding the scene. Officials requested that anyone who had any information (including video and photographs) from the event send it to them.
Allegheny General Health said that seven patients were admitted to Allegheny General Hospital while one was treated at Jefferson Hospital. Both of these people had been injured by gunshots. Officials declined to disclose their names or any other details.
Mitchell Wilston (30, a neighbor) told The Associated Press that he was out with his wife during the shooting, but before leaving saw the crowds of people in the area. There were cars parked wrongly down the street, and a long line outside the rented house.
“It was so obvious that there was going to be a problem — there was a line of 14-year-old kids trying to get into this place,” he said. He said that the house was rented before for events or bachelorette parties, as well for family members of players, and no issues have been reported.
Ben Breit, spokesperson for Airbnb confirmed that the Airbnb house had been rented. The booker had to have been 18 or older as per Airbnb rules. Accordingly to Breit, he has been placed on a lifetime ban. Breit’s statement says the party was thrown without the knowledge of the host, whose listing banned parties and advertised an overnight noise curfew.
Breit said Airbnb was cooperating with authorities: “We share the Pittsburgh community’s outrage regarding this tragic gun violence. Our hearts go out to all who were impacted — including loved ones of those who lost their lives, injured victims and neighbors.”
In the morning, Wilston found his wife’s white car smeared with blood, possibly from someone fleeing the shooting and trying to hide behind the vehicle, he said.
“It’s extremely, extremely disconcerting to see the way the bullets were fired were perpendicular to our house,” he said, adding that he could see bullet holes in a surrounding building from his desk and in another building from another window.
Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey has condemned violence. This was partly because he failed to remove guns from streets and give adequate resources to the communities. To get input from local leaders, he said that the city will call a meeting to discuss a new citywide approach for public safety.
“The time is now for us to move with a sense of urgency to bring justice to the victims and peace to our city,” Gainey, who is in isolation because of a recent COVID-19 exposure, said in a statement.
Ron Todt from the Associated Press in Philadelphia contributed to this article.
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