Police searching for Austin shooter who killed 1 woman and injured 4

Austin police chief of staff Brian Manley said there appeared to have been a disturbance during which an individual pulled out a gun and fired at a crowd. Photograph:( AFP )

Agencies Washington, United States Aug 01, 2016, 05.19 AM (IST)
Police in Texas said on Sunday they were searching for a person of interest in an overnight shooting that killed a young woman and wounded four others.

The Austin police department said it was seeking Endicott McCray, a slender 24-year-old African-American man.

Police across the country, and especially in Texas, remain on edge after a rash of shootings, including one on July 7 in Dallas which saw five officers killed by an African-American extremist.

The incident in Austin began shortly after 2:15am (0715 GMT) in an area filled with bars and nightclubs.

Police warned people to avoid the area, tweeting: "Active shooter incident downtown, multiple victims. Stay away from downtown."

A woman in her 20s was killed, authorities said. They have not named any of the injured, three of whom were treated at a hospital while the fourth was treated at the scene and released. It was unclear whether the shooter knew any of the victims.

At a press conference broadcast via Periscope, Austin police chief of staff Brian Manley said that when officers arrived they found "a very chaotic scene". There appeared to have been a disturbance during which an individual pulled out a gun and fired into a crowd, he said.

Minutes after that shooting, a man opened fire several blocks away in a confrontation at a parking garage, Manley said. Bystanders tackled the shooter, he added.

Police initially believed the two shootings were related and that they were dealing with an "active shooter", but that was not the case, Manley said.

"From everything we can tell at this point through the initial investigation, these are two unrelated incidents," Manley told reporters.

The suspect who opened fire in the parking garage was transported to a hospital for injuries he suffered when bystanders subdued him, Manley said. There were no reports of anyone being struck by bullets in that incident. Sam Vedamanikam, 26, told the Austin American-Statesman newspaper that he and several friends were leaving a dance club when they heard four or five gunshots.

"There were just tons of people on Sixth Street and I see all of them jump toward the ground," Vedamanikam said. "A lot of people were screaming."

He described people emerging from clubs and bars running in all directions at the sound of gunfire, as police officers on patrol rushed to the scene. The shootings in the Texas state capital follow several recent major acts of gun violence in the United States.