A shooting which erupted on a packed Martin Luther King Jr Day block party in Florida that left eight people wounded late on Monday was the 30th mass shooting in the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Authorities said one person was critically hurt after the shooting during the event in Fort Pierce. Seven others were also shot and wounded, and at least four more hurt in the panic that followed.
“As the shots rang out, people were just running in all directions,” Brian Hester, chief deputy of the local sheriff’s office, said at a news briefing.
“There were people laying behind cars, laying behind anything they could lay behind. It was kind of hard to tell who was a victim and who was just hiding at that point.”
The MLK Day party in the city’s Ilous Ellis Park was billed as a family event with a DJ and live music, dance performances, a car show and children’s activities. In a cellphone video taken by a witness, families are seen dancing by their cars as shots are fired, with parents then taking children by the hand and scrambling to safety.
Hester said the shooting appeared to follow a dispute between two groups. He added that at least two weapons were fired in the US’s latest mass shooting, which is defined as a shooting with at least four people killed or wounded, not including attackers.
“So many innocent people that were injured or hurt were not part of the disagreement,” he said.
“It’s really unfortunate, and it’s sad that during a celebration of someone who represented peace and equality, a disagreement results in a use of guns and violence.”
The Florida shooting came hours after a 17-year-old woman and her six-month-old baby were among six killed in another mass gun attack on Monday, in Goshen, California.
Officials there suspect the “horrific massacre” in the early hours was related to drug cartel activity after a search of the residence by deputies executing a narcotics warrant last week.
“We believe this was not a random act of violence. We believe this was a targeted family,” the local sheriff, Mike Boudreaux, told reporters.
Boudreaux said deputies were called to the residence at about 3.30am on Monday and found two victims dead in the street, with four more in the house. They included a man who was still alive but died later in hospital. Several survivors were led from the house, the sheriff said.
Goshen is a semi-rural community of about 3,000 residents, 35 miles south-east of Fresno in the agricultural San Joaquin Valley. Boudreaux said gang violence was not uncommon in the area, but that a massacre targeting an infant showed a heartless level of brutality.
At least 1,943 people have died in the US from gun violence this year. Of those killed, 88 were aged 17 or under, with another 187 minors injured, the Gun Violence Archive says.
The latest shootings come as gun reform advocates fear the new Republican majority in the House will try to stall progress made by Joe Biden’s signing last summer of a bipartisan bill strengthening firearms restrictions, after mass killings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York.
Even if Senate Democrats manage to pass additional gun regulations, the newly elected House speaker, Republican Kevin McCarthy, will be able to block those bills from receiving a vote in the lower chamber.
“I do believe that there’s still opportunity regardless of the fact that obviously the House is under Republican control now,” Zeenat Yahya, director of policy for the gun safety group March for Our Lives, told the Guardian.
“We want to be able to make sure that gun violence prevention is still at the forefront of a conversation, and we’re playing an active role at the federal level.”