SACRAMENTO — At least six people were killed and 12 wounded in downtown Sacramento early Sunday, the authorities said, after gunfire erupted outside a strip of crowded bars where nightlife had recently rebounded as the coronavirus pandemic ebbed.
The shooting, a block from the Capitol building, happened shortly after 2 am, as clubs closed in an area that had been packed in the aftermath of a nearly sold-out rap show. Earlier that night Tyler, the Creator had performed at the nearby Golden 1 Center.
The chief of the Sacramento Police Department, Kathy Lester — a veteran of the department who was sworn into office just two weeks ago, promising to make gun violence a priority — said at a news conference on Sunday morning that when officers on patrol nearby responded to the scene, they found a large crowd and at least a half-dozen people who had been shot “in a really tragic situation.” Additional gunshot victims had either driven themselves to the hospital or been taken there.
Chief Lester asked the public to contact the department with any information about the shooting. She said that it was unclear how many people had opened fire, and that no one was in custody.
Officials have not released further details about the victims or their conditions. The police maintained a large presence on Sunday in the area where the shooting occurred. Behind yellow police tape, the sidewalks outside the clubs were covered in shattered glass and literal with dozens of bullet casings as onlookers milled and police officers sifted through what Chief Lester said would be a complex crime scene.
“I got a son down there under a blanket,” said Fred Harris, 63, a Sacramento resident. He said he had been awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call from his daughter, who, sobbing, was calling to report that his son, Sergio Harris, 38, had been among those gunned down.
“I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, no’” Mr. Harris said. “She said, ‘Put your clothes on, I’ll meet you down there.’” He said his son had been at a club called El Santo when the shooting started.
Leticia Harris, 35, the wife of the deceased son, said Sergio Harris was a landscaper with three children between the ages of 5 and 11. He had no connection with the shooting, she said, other than to have been caught in the crossfire.
“He was a happy guy, a family guy, loved his kids,” she said. “He was just having fun at a pub.”
Berry Accius, a community activist in the city and the founder of Voice of Youth, which supports youth mentorship and gun-violence intervention programs, said he had received a text from an official moments after the shooting, alerting him that several people had been killed .
He said he got to the scene at about 2:30 am and saw a woman with blood covering her clothes, screaming, “My sister is dead,” as the authorities raced to treat others who were seriously wounded.
Mr. Accius said he heard a woman crying as she walked past the yellow crime scene tape, asking where her son was. Another woman, he said, approached him and “talked about her sister’s last breath in her arms.”
The incident was the second mass shooting in just over a month in Sacramento. In late February, a father killed his three young daughters, a chaperone and himself in a church during a supervised custody visitation. Sunday’s death toll is the highest in the state in a single incident since last year, when 10 people were fatally shot in San Jose.
In a statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom decried “another mass casualty shooting” that had left “families with lost loved ones, multiple individuals injured and a community in grievance.”
Darrell Steinberg, the mayor of Sacramento, said on Twitter that “words can’t express my shock and sadness this morning,” adding that “rising gun violence is the scurge of our city, state and nation.”
“The numbers of dead and wounded are difficult to understand,” Mr. Steinberg said. “We await more information about exactly what transpired in this tragic incident.”
Isabella Kwai and Giulia Heyward contributed reporting.