Authorities reported that at least 23 individuals were shot early on Sunday during a gathering in a suburban Chicago parking lot that attracted hundreds of people, one of whom died.
A strip mall lot in Willowbrook, roughly 20 miles (32.1 kilometers) southwest of Chicago, was strewn with garbage and police tape, as seen on TV news footage.
A “peaceful gathering” to commemorate Juneteenth abruptly turned violent when several people fired multiple bullets into the crowd, according to the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office.
“We know of 22 victims injured and one victim killed by gunfire. Several other victims were also injured while attempting to flee the area,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Police had been keeping an eye on the crowd but were called away due to a nearby altercation, according to the sheriff’s office.
“They heard gunshots and immediately returned to the scene,” the sheriff’s office said.
There was no obvious explanation for the attack, and no one had been detained by early afternoon.
“We transported numerous victims from the scene. Others just walked into area hospitals,” said Eric Swanson, deputy chief at the sheriff’s office.
Nearby resident Rick Wagner estimated that by 10:30 p.m., there were at least 300 individuals in the parking lot.
“We’ve had multiple conversations with police” about large groups meeting there, Wagner told the Daily Herald.
“It was like cars everywhere,” he said.
Markeshia Avery, a witness, reported that there was a Juneteenth celebration. Monday is the federal holiday honouring the day in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, realized they had been emancipated.
“We just started hearing shooting, so we dropped down until they stopped,” Avery told WLS-TV.
Another witness, Craig Lotcie, said: “Everybody ran, and it was chaos.”