GREENVILLE, Tex. – Investigators expressed dismay Sunday night at the lack of cooperation by witnesses to a gunman killing two people and wounding six others at a college homecoming party.
The shooter, who brandished a 9 mm handgun, fled in the aftermath chaos shortly after midnight Saturday at a facility called “The Party Venue” on the western outskirt of this small Texas community 50 miles northeast of Dallas.
“It appalls me that, as many folks that were there, they have not been able to give us a better description of the shooter,” said Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks.
“We need to get him off the street as soon as possible, and we have very, very little to go on right now.”
Anyone with information about the shooting was urged to phone the sheriff’s office at 903-453-6800 or the Crime Stoppers line at 903-457-2929. The FBI and Texas Rangers are assisting the investigation.
Meeks said both of the dead victims were young males and the shooter also a male. He said four of the wounded were in critical condition, and the other two in good condition. A half-dozen people at the party suffered injuries while fleeing the venue.
The sheriff said investigators have interviewed more than 20 of the 750 people present, but none of them provided helpful descriptions of the gunman, except to say he used a handgun and appeared to target one individual at the outset of his shooting spree.
Meeks said the party at the 8,000-square-foot entertainment facility off U.S. Highway 380 featured Houston hip-hop artist BeatKing but the shooting occurred right before he was scheduled to take the stage. He tweeted Sunday that videos of the scene “makes my heart drop.”
The revelers included students from nearby Texas A&M University at Commerce, Texas, celebrating the school’s homecoming weekend. Others attended a “Twerk or Treat” Halloween costume party promoted by the venue.
Meeks said overcrowding gave “the opportunity for the shooter to accomplish whatever he wanted to be able to accomplish. When you have that many people in one place, it’s any easy target for somebody.”
University officials said they did not sanction the homecoming party, which occurred 15 miles southwest of the campus. They said four university students were treated and released from local hospitals of minor injuries.
Investigators viewed partygoers’ social media videos of the shooting scene to try to identify the gunman. Some of the videos showed wounded victims, with screaming in the background.
“I just briefly saw one that was a very graphic video,” said Meeks. “I don’t know that’s going to help anything at all.”
He said investigators believe the shooter targeted a specific person at the party – one of the two males killed – and then began randomly firing into the crowd before fleeing.
The sheriff said the partygoers were in their late teens and early 20s. He said a group called the “Good Fellows” from Commerce hosted the party.
Meeks said the sheriff’s office had been notified a half-hour before the shooting about a large party at the venue and traffic issues due to overflow parking. He said deputies first arrived at 11:41 p.m. Saturday and heard shots ring out about at five minutes past midnight.
“It was complete chaos,” the sheriff said.
He said the shooter entered through the rear door of the party building, and appeared to seek out a particular target at first. Deputies on the scene were outside interviewing an intoxicated person at the time, he said.
Scattered about the grounds outside the venue were Halloween masks, slip-on shoes and other party debris. Some costumed partygoers dropped fake bullets in their rush from the scene, adding to the confusion.
The names of the dead and injured were not released, pending notification of next of kin.
The Greenville, Texas, Herald-Banner provided details for this story.