CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two people were killed and seven others were wounded early Monday when multiple people fired into a crowd at an impromptu celebration in North Carolina, police said. Five others were hit by vehicles.
The shooting happened at an impromptu block party in Charlotte that was a continuation of Juneteenth celebrations, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Deputy Chief Gerald Smith said at a media briefing Monday.
About 400 people gathered on the north side of the city when someone in the crowd was struck during a hit-and-run accident, Smith said. Police responding to the scene heard shots being fired. Police believe more than one person fired weapons because videos recorded sounds from guns of different calibers. Authorities recovered around 100 casings from the scene.
Smith said no motive was clear for the shooting.
Near the scene hours later, Myra Stewart said she was saddened by the shooting.
“We’ve been protesting, and we’ve been saying that Black lives matter. But not only do they have to matter to white people, they have to matter to us, too,” said Stewart, an African American resident of Charlotte.
Betty Oates, another Charlotte resident, noted the deaths heighten the sense of crisis during the coronavirus pandemic and a nationwide movement by protesters to highlight racial injustice in the wake of deaths of Black men in police custody.
“We are already in a crisis,” she said. “God, here we are in another crisis on top of another crisis.”
Smith said the situation grew so chaotic after the arrival of authorities early Monday that a rescue team had to be sent into the crowd to pull people “off the backs of our firefighters” who were treating people hurt at the scene.
Smith also acknowledged that some officers had weapons drawn as they sought to gain control of the scene.
“They were doing the best that they can to make sense out of something that is chaotic, a mass casualty scene,” he said.
Smith said that no witnesses have come forward to describe how or why the shooting started and urged the public to help with the investigation.
“We have no witnesses that have come forward,” he said. “Out of the 400 people there, someone saw something.”
No one was in custody by late morning.
Police said in a news release that a woman was found shot dead at the scene, while a man was pronounced dead after being transported to the hospital. They were later identified as 29-year-old Kelly Miller and 28-year-old Christopher Antonio Gleaton.
Of the other seven who were shot, three had life-threatening injuries, Smith said.
The five people hit by vehicles are believed to have suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, police said in a news release. Four of them appear to have been struck while trying to leave the scene.