A shooting at a backyard party packed with more than 100 people in Rochester, N.Y., killed two people and injured more than a dozen in the early hours of Saturday, a police official said.
At least one gunman opened fire shortly before 12:30 a.m., Interim Police Chief Mark Simmons told reporters near the residence where the shooting occurred. A man and a woman, both between the ages of 18 and 22, were killed, according to the police. The authorities had not yet made any arrests or identified any of the victims.
Mr. Simmons described the area as a “very large crime scene” and called the shooting a tragedy. He condemned the party as unsafe in the middle of a pandemic.
“This is yet another tragedy where individuals are having these illegal, unsanctioned house parties taking place in these properties, which — number one — is not safe because of Covid, because of the conditions,” he said. “And then you add in alcohol and violence, and it just becomes a recipe for disaster.”
Rochester, a city of 200,000 in western New York, has faced a spate of shootings in recent months. The city’s police department has come under heightened scrutiny after the suffocation of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died after he was handcuffed and had his head pushed on the pavement as officers pulled a mesh hood over him.
Mr. Simmons said the community was already “going through so much” and now had to deal with a new, needless tragedy.
“For people who decide to act in a violent manner is unfortunate and shameful, and we’re going to do everything that we can as a department to bring those people involved to justice,” he said.
The police department suspended seven officers this month in connection with Mr. Prude’s death and several command staff members have resigned. On Monday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired the police chief, La’Ron Singletary.
Mr. Singletary and other prominent Rochester officials had tried for months to dissimulate the officers’ actions around Mr. Prude’s death, mostly by keeping the troubling videos of the incident out of public view, according to an internal review of Mr. Prude’s death and the city’s actions in the ensuing months.
Weeks after Mr. Prude’s family made the video of his March arrest public, protesters have also called for Ms. Warren’s resignation. But she has maintained that she was unaware of the details around Mr. Prude’s death.
The police said they did not believe the shooting on Saturday was tied to the recent demonstrations.
In audio records of the police communications, people could be heard shouting and crying as officers called for additional cars and described how hundreds of witnesses were on the scene.
“This tragic act of violence has impacted many people’s lives and families,” Mayor Warren said in a statement. She urged people to “remain calm and exercise deep restraint” while an investigation was carried out.
The wounded suffered non-life threatening injuries and were being treated in the hospital. The Rochester police said that in addition to those who were shot, two others had been injured as they fled the gunfire.