Gunfire, shootings and panic mar American weekend

Jul 18, 2022, 3:20 AM | Updated: 4:04 pm
Law enforcement wait outside after a deadly shooting Sunday, July 17, 2022, at the Greenwood Park M...

Law enforcement wait outside after a deadly shooting Sunday, July 17, 2022, at the Greenwood Park Mall, in Greenwood, Ind. (Kelly Wilkinson/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

(Kelly Wilkinson/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

A man firing a rifle killed shoppers at an Indiana mall’s food court. A gunfight at a Houston home killed four people.

A stand-up act by the comedian Craig Robinson in North Carolina didn’t even begin before club-goers fled from a man with a gun.

In Las Vegas, the specter of gunfire at the MGM Grand sent the crowded casino into pandemonium over a panic that started with a shattered glass door.

As gamblers fled for the exits at the MGM and others ducked behind overturned card tables, professional poker player Daniel Negreanu was trampled in what he called a sad reflection of an anxious America gripped by gun violence.

“On the surface, other people would look at it and think it was an overreaction,” Negreanu said. “But it’s warranted … because we live in a state of fear now.”

It was a false alarm in Las Vegas, but the weekend’s gun violence left more than a half-dozen dead or wounded, including a 12-year-old, two 16-year-olds and an 18-year-old.

Fear of shooters has left more people on edge and the shootings — or panic over the fear of them — were just the latest to hit America in 2022 after a school, church, grocery store and a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Illinois, all become murder scenes in recent months.

In addition, authorities released a damning report that criticized all levels of law enforcement — including inaction by hundreds of federal, state and local officers — for a chaotic and feckless response on May 24 to a gunman who killed 19 students and two teachers inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Here is a look at some of what happened this weekend:

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GREENWOOD, INDIANA

Three people died and two were injured after a man with a rifle started shooting at the Greenwood Park Mall on Sunday evening. An armed civilian shot and killed him, police said.

The shooter began firing after leaving a bathroom at the suburban Indianapolis mall shortly before it closed, Greenwood police Chief James Ison said Monday.

Witnesses described panicked mall goers fleeing.

Killed were a married couple — Pedro Pineda, 56, and Rosa Mirian Rivera de Pineda, 37 — and Victor Gomez, 30, according to coroners’ offices.

A 22-year-old who was legally carrying a firearm killed the gunman, stopping the shooter “almost as soon as he began,” Ison said.

“Many more people would have died last night if not for a responsible armed citizen,” Ison said.

The three people who died were in addition to the 20-year-old shooter. Police did not yet know a motive.

Ison said the man used an AR-15-style rifle during the shooting, firing 24 rounds within two minutes. Investigators found another one and magazines with more than 100 rounds of ammunition in the bathroom. They also found a handgun on the shooter.

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HOUSTON

Four people died after a gunfight at an apartment complex in Houston late Saturday.

The Harris County sheriff’s office said witnesses reported seeing several people, including the victims, shooting at each other after they began arguing.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said those killed included two 16-year-olds, a 19-year-old and a 25-year-old.

The sheriff’s office did not identify the victims, a motive or a suspect.

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EAST GLACIER PARK, MONTANA

Two men and an 18-month old toddler died after being shot at the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, a community of 17,000 people just outside Glacier National Park.

Two women were injured, at least one of them wounded by a gun.

Authorities said there were no other imminent threats to the public and declined to release more information.

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CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

Patrons waiting for the show to start at The Comedy Zone fled on Saturday night when a man waved a gun, told everyone to leave and then fired it in the empty venue, according to police and witnesses.

No one was injured. The man, identified by police as Omar McCombs, pulled the gun before actor and comedian Craig Robinson came out to perform.

About 50 customers had been inside.

McCombs, 36, was taken into custody and faces several charges, including assault. Police did not disclose a motive.

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LAS VEGAS

People fled and upturned poker tables in a panic over the mistaken belief that gunfire had erupted at the MGM Grand casino hotel late Saturday night.

Police found no evidence of gunfire; just a shattered glass door in the valet area.

Video posted to social media showed people scrambling across the Strip, including one video that showed officers approaching with guns drawn and lowered as several people hurried in the opposite direction.

Negreanu said his wrist was bloodied and injured in the stampede of people fleeing.

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TULSA

An 18-year-old woman was killed after an altercation led to gunfire early Sunday morning at a downtown gathering spot called the Center of the Universe, police said.

Police said she was a passenger in a vehicle when an altercation broke out between two groups of people. Gunfire erupted, hitting the woman and a building, shattering glass doors, according to police.

Police received a call about gunfire and kids “running everywhere” at the gathering spot, a concrete circle known for its acoustic features.

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UVALDE, TEXAS

Sunday saw the release of a long-awaited report that further laid bare the chaotic response to May 24’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde.

The findings of an investigative committee criticized both state and federal law enforcement, and not just local authorities for the bewildering inaction by heavily armed officers outside while a gunman fired bullets inside adjoining fourth-grade classrooms.

Nearly 400 law enforcement officials rushed to the school, but “egregiously poor decision making” resulted in more than an hour of chaos before the gunman was finally confronted and killed, according to the report written by an investigative committee from the Texas House of Representatives.

The gunman fired approximately 142 rounds inside the building — and it is “almost certain” that at least 100 shots came before any officer entered, according to the report, which laid out numerous failures.

The committee didn’t “receive medical evidence” to show that police storming the classrooms sooner would have saved lives, but it concluded that “it is plausible that some victims could have survived if they had not had to wait 73 additional minutes for rescue.”

Hours after the report was released, Uvalde officials separately released hours of body camera footage from the city’s police officers who responded to the attack.

Video from Uvalde Staff Sgt. Eduardo Canales, the head of the city’s SWAT team, showed the officer approaching the classrooms when gunfire rang out at 11:37 a.m.

A minute later, Canales said: “Dude, we’ve got to get in there. We’ve got to get in there, he just keeps shooting.”

It was 72 minutes later, at 12:50 p.m., when officers finally breached the classrooms and killed the shooter.

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Associated Press reporter Claudia Torrens in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Gunfire, shootings and panic mar American weekend