After FBI’s Warning of Violence in U.S. Streets:
NEW YORK (Dispatches) -- A shooting at a backyard party packed with more than 100 people in Rochester, New York, killed two people and injured more than a dozen in the early hours of Saturday, a police official said.
A male and a female died in the shooting on Saturday, the interim police chief Mark Simmons told reporters. The wounded people were taken to two different hospitals. Simmons said none of them were reported to have life-threatening injuries.
"This is truly a tragedy of epic proportions,” Simmons said near the crime scene.
Officers responded to calls of shots being fired and found about 100 people running from the scene, Simmons said. Before the call, police were not aware of the party, he said.
"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. And then you add in alcohol and violence and it just becomes a recipe for disaster,” Simmons said.
The interim chief said no suspects were in custody, adding that it was too early to tell whether there was more than one shooter.
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.
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 Prude’s death and several command staff members have resigned. On Monday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired the police chief, La’Ron Singletary.
Singletary and other prominent Rochester officials had tried for months to dissimulate the officers’ actions around Prude’s death, mostly by keeping the troubling videos of the incident out of public view, according to an internal review of Prude’s death and the city’s actions in the ensuing months.
Weeks after 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.
The FBI is increasingly worried about possible violent clashes between ideologically-motivated extremist groups before the November election, director Chris Wray said Thursday.
Wray said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is keeping a close eye on groups who have faced off in protests in various cities such as Portland, Oregon, and Kenosha, Wisconsin.
In those places, anti-racism and anti-police groups have squared off with right-wing and white nationalist activists who are often armed.
Wray told a Congressional hearing that the FBI was deeply concerned about the growing tension on U.S. streets, and groups that are "hijacking” protests to incite violence.
"Now you’ve got an additional level of combustible violence,” he said, citing "violent extremist groups or individuals committing violence.”
"Now you have both groups from the opposite sides adding to the combustibility and danger of the situation,” Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee.
"We have certainly seen that in a number of cities. That’s a force multiplier, in a bad way, that I’m concerned about.”
Several people have been killed in those situations.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday urged "patriotic” teaching in schools and railed against anti-racism training that he said is destroying national unity.
Behind in the polls six weeks before the presidential election, Trump is going all out to stir up his right-wing base against what he argues is a far-left plot to change the American way of life.
He has taken particular aim at so-called critical race theory, racial sensitivity training and attempts to reexamine U.S. history by centering the deep roots of racism against African Americans.
Trump, whose speech marked Constitution Day, was speaking after a summer of sometimes violent anti-police protests, triggered by high-profile shootings and killings by officers of black suspects during arrests.
The unrest, which activists say reflected pent-up anger at the country’s failure to reckon with racism, also saw crowds tearing down historic statues -- some celebrating figures from the slave-owning South in the Civil War and some representing the country’s early founders.