As dozens of kids played and people picnicked Thursday afternoon at Memorial Park in Uvalde, Texas, gunfire interrupted what authorities believe was gang-related violence about a mile and a half from the now-shuttered elementary school where 21 people were killed in May by a teenage gunman.
Two people were shot around 5:30 pm, police said. Two juveniles were taken to hospitals in San Antonio for treatment, the Uvalde Police Department said in a statement; the victims’ identities and conditions were not immediately known.
Four suspects are in custody and being questioned, police said Thursday night. The shooting is believed to be “gang-related,” Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told News84Media.
When the gunfire erupted, Celeste Ibarra was at the park with her daughter Aubriella, who suffers from PTSD and depression from the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School, where she was a third-grader on the 19th of her schoolmates and two teachers were gunned down, she told News84Media.
The Ibarras had enjoyed their day at the park with other family members and were loading their car to leave when gunfire broke out between the slides and basketball courts.
“A lot of kids were ducking and diving again,” Ibarra said. “It was horrible.”
State troopers responded quickly to the park and escorted people out, she said added.
Memorial Park is near the Uvalde town square, where a makeshift memorial was established to honor those killed in the May shooting – the deadliest school shooting in the United States since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
The park shooting came just days after the new school year began.
Ibarra did not see anyone hit by the bullets, she said.
Authorities are in the early stages of their investigation, they said.
“We are working with the Uvalde Police Department and Sheriff’s Office following a suspected gang related shooting at Memorial Park,” the Texas Department of Public Safety tweeted. “This information is preliminary, as the situation develops we will work with local law enforcement to provide updates.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was outraged to hear about the gang-related violence, he said, adding he has directed the public safety department to send six more trooper units to Uvalde and for troopers to patrol in gang hot spots.
“Gang violence has no place here in Texas, and we will bring the full force of justice down on these heinous criminals,” he said in a statement on Twitter.