OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Police were searching for suspects Wednesday after gunfire erupted in downtown Oakland near a vigil for two drowning victims, leaving a 17-year-old girl dead and sending mourners and pedestrians running for cover.
Three other people ranging from their mid-teens to early 20s were treated at a hospital and released after the shooting Tuesday evening, police said. Regginna Jefferies, 17, whom police initially said was 16, died at a hospital.
White-clad mourners had gathered to remember two teenage boys who drowned over Memorial Day weekend at a reservoir in Stanislaus County, media outlets reported.
Witnesses told investigators that “several suspects” opened fire toward the group, police said in a statement. It was not known if the shooting was connected to the memorial, and police did not release suspect descriptions.
Samantha Youngman said she heard the gunshots from her 13th-floor office and wondered if they could be firecrackers. She raced to the window, “looked out and saw people running.” Five or six people were racing down and across the street, stopping traffic. They were dressed all in white, so she didn’t think it was gang-related.
From her ninth floor office nearby, Diana Haven said she heard what she thought were firecrackers and then screaming. The scene on the street below was chaotic and loud, she said.
“I’m sad, I’m really sad, because Oakland downtown is safe,” Haven said. “I really enjoy and love the city, and it just makes me sad.”
It was the 26th homicide in Oakland this year, according to Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Johnna Watson. Police reported 93 homicides last year and 86 in 2014.
The shooting came after an attack early Sunday at a gay nightclub in Florida left 49 people dead.
“The really scary thing, coming on the heels of the shooting in Orlando, you wonder is it gang-related or is it a crazy gunman,” Mason Stone, who was walking when he heard the gunshots and ducked behind a car, told The San Francisco Chronicle. “I guess you figure sooner or later if you live in a city like that you … realize anything can happen at any time.”
This story has been corrected to show that police say the number of 2016 homicides in Oakland is 26 after initially providing crime statistics showing 24. The police also say the girl who died was 17 after initially saying she was 16.
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