Houston: Celebratory gunshots fired at a girl`s 18th birthday party triggered more gunfire that left two people dead, two critically injured and nearly two-dozen injured in a chaotic scene where people jumped from second-floor windows to escape the shooting at a suburban Houston home, authorities have said.
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said the gathering Saturday night was openly promoted using multiple social media sites, drew more than 100 people, most of them 17- to 19-year-olds, and became a "birthday party gone wild."
He said it appears partygoers were dancing in the home when someone armed with a pistol shot into the air in celebration.
In the ensuing confusion, another person who was armed began firing into the crowd, Garcia said. Young people then streamed into the narrow street to avoid the burst of gunshots that followed shortly before 11 pm (local time) Saturday.
Partygoer Shaniqua Brown who said she heard about the party through Instagram, a photo-sharing app and website told The Associated Press it "was not rowdy at all."
She said she first heard gunshots in the house and they continued outside as people fled and sought cover.
Authorities have given varying accounts of the number of people injured, but they clarified yesterday that 20 were hurt, with 16 suffering gunshot wounds and four others varying injuries such as a fracture and twisted ankles in the panic to flee.
The two people killed, one an 18-year-old male and the other a 16-year-old female, were students at Cypress Springs High School, Garcia said.
He chastised the party organisers, who advertised the event on social media, saying "you have no control on who to expect at your door."
Authorities are searching for two gunmen, he said, one who`s about 17 years old and the other believed to be about 22.
"It`s a horrible combination of immaturity, access to a firearm, and the inability to control one`s self," he said.
Garcia said party organisers arranged to have people searched as they entered the home.
"Anytime you have to factor in a bouncer and being searched at the door, you have already taken a turn for the worse," he said.