'Multiple shooters' in Sacramento, Calif., mass shooting that killed 6, police say

Six people were killed and 12 injured before dawn Sunday in Sacramento when multiple shooters fired amid crowds as bars and nightclubs emptied for the night in the second mass shooting in five weeks in California's capital city, the city's police chief said.

At least 12 injured after early morning shooting in city's downtown

Two women hug each other at the scene of a mass shooting in Sacramento, Calif., on Sunday. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group/The Associated Press)

Six people were killed and 12 injured before dawn Sunday in Sacramento when multiple shooters fired amid crowds as bars and nightclubs emptied for the night in the second mass shooting in five weeks in California's capital city, the city's police chief said.

Three of those killed were women and three were men, Police Chief Kathy Lester told reporters. 

Sgt. Zach Eaton, a police department spokesperson, said investigators believe there were at least two shooters.

The suspects were still at large and authorities said they had found a stolen handgun and were reviewing video footage posted to social media that showed what appeared to be an altercation before the gunfire erupted.

Detectives were trying to determine the sequence of events before the shooting. Eaton said they "don't know if that fight actually lead to the shooting."

A police camera captured part of the shooting, Lester said, and investigators have located hundreds of pieces of evidence amid a scene that Lester described as "really complex and complicated" — so much so that the bodies of the victims had remained on the street hours later.

The crime scene stretched across multiple city blocks, with dozens of blue and yellow evidence markers dotting the pavement. Several of those who were wounded battled life-threatening gunshot injuries in hospitals.

Kelsey Schar was staying on the fourth floor of Citizen Hotel when she said she heard gunshots and saw flashes in the dark. She walked to the window and "saw a guy running and just shooting," Schar told The Associated Press in an interview.

Investigators search for evidence in the area of a mass shooting In Sacramento, Calif., on Sunday. (Rich Pedroncelli/The Associated Press)

Her friend, Madalyn Woodard, said she saw a crowd in the street scatter amid the gunfire and a girl who appeared to have been shot in the arm lying on the ground. Security guards from a nearby nightclub rushed to help the girl with what looked like napkins to try to stanch the bleeding.

A video posted on Twitter showed people running through the street amid the sounds of rapid gunfire in the city of about 525,000 located 120 kilometres from San Francisco.

The area where the violence occurred on the outskirts of the city's main entertainment district is packed with restaurants and bars. Nightclubs close at 2 a.m. PT and it's normal for streets to be full of people at that hour.

The district is anchored by the Golden One Center that attracts big-name concerts and is home to the NBA's Sacramento Kings. City officials have invested heavily in the area to promote development in the area.

"This morning our city has a broken heart," Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said. "We don't know all the facts but we know there were mass casualties in a very short amount of time."

Leticia Fields-Harris, who believes her husband, Sergio Harris, 38, died in the shooting, visits the scene on Sunday. (Fred Greaves/Reuters)

Officers were patrolling the area near the shooting site two blocks from the Capitol at about 2 a.m. when they heard gunfire and rushed to the scene, Lester told reporters. They found a large crowd gathered and six people dead in the street.

Twelve other people were also shot and wounded in the melee and at least four of them suffered critical injuries, officials said.

Authorities recovered "at least one firearm" from the scene, a police statement said, and officials urged witnesses or anyone with recordings of the shooting to contact police.

"We're asking for the public's help in helping us to identify the suspects in this," Lester said. Asked if authorities were searching for one or more than one suspects, Lester told reporters that she did not know.

Pop duo Aly & AJ performed Saturday at Sacramento's Crest Theatre and their tour bus was caught in the gunfire, the musicians said on Twitter. No one in their touring group was hurt, the duo said in a tweet.

Gun violence

Sunday's violence was the third time in the United States this year that at least six people were killed in a mass shooting, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University in Boston. It was also the second mass shooting in Sacramento in the last five weeks.

On Feb. 28, a father killed his three daughters, a chaperon and himself in a church during a weekly supervised visitation. David Mora, 39, was armed with a homemade semiautomatic rifle-style weapon, though he was under a restraining order that barred him from possessing a firearm.

Council member Katie Valenzuela, who represents the area where the shooting happened, said she's fielded phone calls reporting many violent incidents in her district in the 15 months she's been in office.

Valenzuela cried at a news conference as she told reporters that the latest phone call woke her up at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday with details about the latest tragedy.

"I'm heartbroken and I'm outraged," she said. "Our community deserves better than this."

WATCH | Calls for gun control measures after deadly Sacramento shooting:

Calls for gun control measures after deadly Sacramento shooting

3 months ago
Duration 1:07
Katie Valenzuela, a member of city council in Sacramento, Calif., calls for stricter gun control measures after a deadly shooting in the city's downtown early Sunday morning.

At the news conference, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg decried rising gun violence and said city officials would support the victims. He said the city has worked hard to attract people back to its downtown since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and that despite the shooting, the city was safe.

"This morning our city has a broken heart," Steinberg said. "This is a senseless and unacceptable tragedy."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement that his administration was working closely with law enforcement.

"What we do know at this point is that another mass casualty shooting has occurred, leaving families with lost loved ones, multiple individuals injured and a community in grief," he said.

Missing loved ones

Kay Harris, 32, said she was asleep when one of her family members called to say they thought her brother had been killed. She said she thought he had been at the London nightclub, which is near the shooting.

Police are seen after the early-morning shooting near the Golden 1 Center arena in Sacramento. (Fred Greaves/Reuters)

Harris said she has been to the club a few times and described it as a place for "the younger crowd." She spent the morning circling the block waiting for news.

"Very much so a senseless, violent act," she said.

Pamela Harris, Sergio Harris's mother, told the Sacramento Bee that the family has not heard from him yet.

"We just want to know what happened to him," Pamela Harris told the newspaper. "Not knowing anything is just hard to face."

Berry Accius, a community activist, said he came to the scene shortly after the shooting took place.

"The first thing I saw was, like, victims. I saw a young girl with a whole bunch of blood in her body, a girl taking off glass from her, a young girl screaming saying, 'They killed my sister.' A mother running up, 'Where's my son, has my son been shot?'" he said.

UC Davis Medical Center received four patients from the downtown shooting, spokesperson Stephanie Winn said. She declined to provide their genders or conditions, referring the media to police.