Texas party ‘not rowdy’ before gunfire; 2 dead

HOUSTON — A burst of gunfire at an 18-year-old girl’s birthday party Saturday night left two dead, another two critically injured and dozens hurt in a chaotic scene where people jumped from second-floor windows to escape the shooting at a suburban Houston home.

More than 100 people, mostly 17- to 19-year-olds, had gathered at the home in Cypress, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said. Partygoer Shaniqua Brown told The Associated Press it “was not rowdy at all,” and many people were dancing when they heard the shots, which police said were fired between 11:30 p.m. and midnight.

Authorities say they’re seeking two gunmen.

A man and woman died — one at the scene and another at a hospital. They have not been identified by name. As many as 22 were hurt, with injuries ranging from gunshot wounds to twisted ankles by those fleeing in panic. Sheriff’s spokesman Thomas Gilliland said Sunday authorities are still trying to determine the condition for many of the injured.

He said deputies were confronted with “mass chaos” when they responded to the call in this residential neighborhood about 25 miles northwest of Houston, adding that “kids were literally everywhere.” He said witnesses reported partygoers jumping from the second floor in their scramble to flee.

Mariah Boulden told the Houston Chronicle it was her birthday party. She said her brother and others were patting down people as they entered her home. Two men refused to be searched and walked away, she told the newspaper, then apparently hopped a neighbor’s fence and entered through a back gate.

“They wasn’t supposed to be here whoever they was,” Boulden said.

Brown said word about the party was spread through Instagram, a photo-sharing app and website. She said she first heard gunshots in the house and they continued outside as people ran into the streets seeking cover.

Pools of blood were visible outside the two-story brick home Sunday, and the garage door was bent after people had pushed it upward while trying to escape.

Karen Briones was visiting relatives in the neighborhood.

“Girls were crying and screaming, banging on people’s doors asking them for help and to call 911,” she told the Chronicle.

The sheriff’s statement said those hurt were taken to at least five area medical centers or hospitals, some by paramedics and some in private vehicles. Gilliland said some people were shot in the foot, ankle and hip.

Bruno Figueroa lives a few houses down the street and said he heard five to 10 shots. He looked out his window and saw a crowd of at least 30 people running down his street.

“Kids were running everywhere,” he said.

Figueroa said people suddenly began ducking into back yards and behind vehicles in driveways, apparently trying to hide from a car that was slowly coming down the street. Figueroa said that from his upstairs window he could hear the people who were hiding nearby.

“They were crying, yelling, `My brother got shot,’ `Why did they do this?”’ he said.

Figueroa said as soon as the slow-moving car rounded a corner and then sped away, the people who had been hiding gathered back in the street.

Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Christina Garza told the Chronicle that at least one parent was in the house. Gilliland said investigators were trying to determine if alcohol had been served at the party.

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