Two men died and 12 more people were injured as a result of a shooting at a public party just west of Greenville late Saturday night. The lone suspect, currently identified only as male, remains at large, the Hunt County Sheriff's Office said.
The shooting happened around midnight Saturday at The Party Venue, located just west of Greenville at 2275 U.S. Highway 380. The event was a party celebrating homecoming weekend at Texas A&M University-Commerce. The party was not sanctioned by the university. The weapon used was a handgun, officials said.
One of the two dead men has been identified as Kevin Berry, 23, of Dallas, according to WFAA-TV.
Berry's mother, Nakima Alexander, told WFAA that Berry was the father of two sons and was expecting a third child. On Saturday night, he was taking his kids to see their mother, who lives in the area, and stopped by the party afterward, Alexander said. Berry’s brother, who was also at the party, held Berry as he died, Alexander told WFAA. A vigil for Berry was scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday night at St. Augustine Park in Dallas, WFAA reported.
Initial reports from law enforcement placed the number of injured survivors at 14, but that was later revised to 12. Hunt County Sgt. Jeff Haines said that of the 12 who were injured but survived, six had been shot. The remaining six were injured trying to escape. At least one window was broken by people trying to flee the building.
On Sunday afternoon, Haines said that four of those with gunshot wounds were at that time in critical condition, one was in good condition, and the status of the other shooting victim was not known.
Two sheriff’s deputies were on scene before the incident began. Around 11:30 p.m., officers responded to complaints of improper parking near the site of the party.
The gunman entered the building from the rear entrance and began firing. The two deputies were at the front of the building at that time, Sheriff Randy Meeks said.
“The first deputies arrived at 11:41 p.m.,” Meeks said. "The officers were investigating a possible intoxicated party goer at the front of the club when the shots fired call came in. Within five minutes the deputies contacted dispatch to report there were multiple victims.”
“It was just complete chaos,” Meeks said.
Meeks said that his deputies estimated about 750 inside the building at the time of the shooting. A post from The Party Venue's Facebook page in March stated that it held a capacity of 500 people. Meeks said he did not know the building’s capacity as set by fire safety regulations. An off-duty Farmersville Independent School District police officer was the only security present for the event, Meeks said.
Witnesses told law enforcement that the gunman seemed to be looking for one person in particular and shot that victim, currently identified only as male, first, Meeks said. It is not known whether Berry was the first or second man to be fatally shot.
“After that he just apparently started firing at random,” Meeks said. Hunt County Justice of the Peace Wayne Money ordered autopsies on the individuals and they were transported to the Southwest Institute for Forensic Science in Dallas.
Meeks described both the victims and other attendees as being “in their late teens to early 20s.”
Meeks said the party was hosted by a Commerce group called the “Good Fellows,” but he did not provide any other information about the group besides its name.
At the press conference, Meeks expressed frustration with the lack of identifying information about the shooter that his officers have gathered from witness statements. Meeks described most of the witnesses as "not being cooperative."
Authorities have no information about how the suspect got away from the scene, or a description of any vehicle the suspect might have used before or after the shooting.
“It appalls me that, as many folks that were there, [they] have not been able to give us a better description of the shooter,” Meeks said.
Sunday morning, several young adults returned to the scene to retrieve cars that had been left behind. They declined to speak with KETR about the incident.
Sheriff’s deputies provided medical assistance to victims at the site, and one officer took a victim with life-threatening injuries to a local hospital, Meeks said.
Texas A&M University-Commerce President Mark Rudin issued a statement Sunday afternoon in which he confirmed that some of those injured were A&M-Commerce students.
"There is a tremendous amount of misinformation revolving around this off-campus event," Rudin said. "At this time, we can confirm four of our current students were treated and released from local hospitals. We are currently reaching out to these four affected students. We will continue to monitor this situation."
Students have counseling services available, Rudin said. “Walk-in counseling services are available to all of our students at the counseling center located on the Commerce campus in the Halladay Student Services Building. Students may also call 903-886-5145 for counseling services. Our heartfelt sympathies extend to all victims, their families, and friends."
A vigil will be held in honor of those killed, wounded or affected by the shooting at 4 p.m. Monday at the amphitheater on the A&M-Commerce campus.
Meeks said the FBI and Texas Rangers are assisting in the investigation and he is urging anyone with information about the case to contact the sheriff’s office at 903-453-6800 or, if they choose to remain anonymous, to call Crime Stoppers at 903-457-2929.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.