‘Epic tragedy:’ 16 shot at New York party

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A man and a woman were killed and 14 other people were wounded in a shooting at a backyard party early Saturday in the upstate New York city of Rochester, police said.

Police are trying to determine who — and how many people — opened fire. No suspects were in custody, and no motive was immediately known, Acting Police Chief Mark Simmons told reporters before dawn.

The two who died were between 18 and 22 years old, Simmons said, without releasing their names.

The 14 wounded are from 17 to 23 years old, and were taken to two hospitals with what are believed to be non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Several dozen rounds were fired, police said in a news release.

“This is truly a tragedy of epic proportions, if you ask me,” Simmons said near the shooting site on the city’s east side. “Sixteen victims is unheard of.”

The shooting comes as the city and police department deal with another high-profile case: that of Daniel Prude, who died in March after Rochester police pinned him to the ground. The release of body camera footage this month led to protests and accusations that local leaders hid details about Prude’s death from the public.

SImmons this week succeeded the previous chief, who was fired over the fallout. A New York City law firm is leading an independent investigation into the city’s handling of the case. Also, New York ‘s attorney general has said she would empanel a grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.

Police on Saturday responded to calls of gunshots around 12:25 a.m. and found about 100 people running down a street in in a “very chaotic scene,” Simmons said.

“We could see and observe multiple victims of gunshot wounds at that time,” he said.

The neighborhood where the shooting happened is near the Rochester Public Market, according to a report in the Democrat & Chronicle.

Police were not aware of the party beforehand, and had not received any calls for disturbance, Simmons said.

Rochester officials had issued guidelines, because of the coronavirus pandemic, for residents to limit social gatherings to household members and not to gather in groups, according to the city’s website.

“For our community, (which) is right now going through so much, to have to be dealt with this tragedy (Saturday’s shooting), needlessly — for people who decide to act in a violent manner — is unfortunate and shameful,” Simmons said early Saturday.

“We’re going to do everything that we can as a department to bring those people involved to justice,” he said.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren asked “the community for prayers and support for all involved” in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WHAM.

“I’m begging everyone to remain calm and exercise deep restraint as RPD investigates what happened here and seeks those responsible,” the statement reads. “As soon as additional information is available the police department will provide updates on this matter. Please keep our city in your continual prayers.”

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