GREENVILLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — At least two people were killed and a dozen others were wounded during a college homecoming party outside Greenville Saturday night.
The shooting occurred just after midnight at The Party Venue on US Highway 380, and involved students from Texas A&M Commerce. However, the event was not sanctioned by the school, according to officials.
Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks told reporters Sunday that a total of 14 people were injured including the two deceased. Of those 14, eight had gun shot wounds.
Detectives were on scene prior to the shooting after complaints to police about numerous cars parked on the shoulder creating a traffic hazard.
Meeks said approximately 750 people were at the party at the time.
“When the shots were fired, it was complete chaos as people fled for safety and deputies attempted to locate the shooter,” Meeks said.
When deputies made their way inside the crowded structure, they notified dispatchers that there were multiple victims.
“In the chaos, the suspect — or suspects — were able to flee the scene, and we are working on identifying them at this point,” he said.
He later said they believe there was only one male shooter.
Officials interviewed at least 20 witnesses and victims so far in an attempt to identify the suspect.
“Due to the many different descriptions being provided by those in attendance of the party, we unfortunately do not have any solid suspect information to provide at this time,” Meeks said.
Earlier, Hunt County Sheriffs Office Chief Deputy Buddy Oxford told reporters that officials were “not getting cooperation from the people that were attending the party.”
When asked if witnesses were still not cooperating, Meeks said, “It appalls me that [with] as many folks that were there, [they] have not been able to give us a better description of this shooter.”
Officials are asking anyone with information to contact the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office or Hunt County Crime Stoppers at 903-457-2929. Meeks said tipsters can remain anonymous.
Meeks also said he did not believe there was an ongoing threat to the public although the shooter remains at large. He said investigators believe there was someone at the party that was targeted by the shooter but they were still following up on those leads.
“The shooter came in the back door,” said Meeks. “His first victim — we think — may have been his target victim.”
Meeks said that was based on investigator theories and circumstantial evidence they have. He said the rest of the victims are thought to be “just random.”
The sheriff indicated that the building may have been over-crowded, although he did not know what the official occupancy was for the venue.
“It gave the opportunity for this shooter to accomplish whatever he wanted to accomplish,” he said. “When you have this many people in one place, it’s an easy target for somebody.”
Meeks said there was only one security guard in charge of the party and that there was no way one guard “could control everything that went on there.”
Officials do not believe that the shooter was a party-goer.
There was not much other information regarding the severity of the injuries to the 14 who were wounded.
Deputy Oxford said that one student was injured jumping out of a window to escape.
He also said the victims were college-age and may have been students from Texas A&M Commerce and other universities in the North Texas area.
Meeks commended two of his deputies who’s actions he said may have saved lives. He said the sergeant on scene transported one individual who had life threatening injuries to a hospital in his patrol car. Another deputy began to triage victims on scene for paramedics.
One witness told officials that people were invited to the party via Twitter.
Officials earlier said the weapon used in the shooting was possibly a semi-automatic rifle but they now believe the weapon was a hand gun.
Police said there were attendees at the party in Halloween costumes and one of those costumes possibly included a prop rifle which may have lead to confusion regarding the shooter’s weapon.
Three victims were taken by air ambulance to Medical City of Plano, a trauma hospital and other victims were taken to hospitals in Greenville, Commerce and Quinlan.
No officers were injured in the shooting nor did they fire their weapons.
In addition to sheriff’s deputies, the Texas Rangers and FBI were also on scene.
Texas A&M University-Commerce has since released a statement:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families, and friends of those affected by this morning’s shooting in Greenville, Texas.
Texas A&M University-Commerce leadership and the University’s Police Department are working with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office to determine if any of those shot or injured are A&M-Commerce students. This is still an ongoing investigation by the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office.
This event did not occur on the A&M-Commerce campus.
Counseling services are immediately available to A&M-Commerce students at (903) 886-5145.