A spate of deadly shootings erupted across cities in the US during July 4th celebrations, leaving dozens of people injured and many dead.
A shooting at a nightclub in South Carolina in the early hours of Sunday morning left two people dead and eight wounded, a sheriff's official said.
Two Greenville County sheriff's deputies noticed a disturbance at Lavish Lounge just before 2 am, and saw a large crowd running out of the building, Sheriff Hobart Lewis said at a news conference. There was "active gunfire from inside the building," Lt. Jimmy Bolt said in an initial statement, and Sheriff Lewis said all the shots were fired inside.
Both Sheriff Lewis and Lt. Bolt initially said 12 people had been wounded, with at least four in critical condition. But Lt. Bolt told The Associated Press that two victims were likely counted twice in the confusion at the hospital.
No one was immediately taken into custody. Lt. Bolt told the AP that the sheriff's office was looking for two suspects, but couldn't provide names or descriptions.
"We don't really have a person of interest that we can name," Sheriff Lewis said, later adding that authorities were not sure what led to the gunfire.
Lt. Lewis said a "very large crowd" was at the nightclub for "some type of concert." A post on Lavish Lounge's Facebook page advertised a July 4 performance by trap rapper Foogiano.
Coronavirus cases in South Carolina have risen swiftly and the state's rate of positive tests is three times the recommended level. Greenville Gov. Henry McMaster reminded South Carolinians last week that he hadn't lifted restrictions on large crowds, and that those operating nightclubs illegally or holding concerts against his orders don't have to be caught in the act to face criminal charges, but instead could be charged weeks later if Covid-19 cases are traced back.
Under restrictions imposed by Gov. McMaster in March to restrict the spread of the coronavirus, gatherings of 50 or more people in a single room are off-limits. Authorities told the Greenville News that investigators determined about 200 were inside the club at the time of the shooting, more than the maximum capacity allowed in the business under the governor's emergency order.
The sheriff said at the news conference that he didn't know whether the club had sought an exemption to the governor's order or secured a permit for Saturday night's event, but said it was clear that the club's patrons were not 2 metres apart.
"It's certainly not the best situation to stop the spread of this virus," the sheriff said, adding investigators found a lot blood and "a lot of spent rounds" of ammunition as they collected evidence from inside the club.
Of the eight wounded, some had non-life-threatening injuries and others were in critical condition.
The Greenville County Coroner's Office identified the dead as 23-year-old Mykala Bell of Greenville and a 51-year-old security guard at the club, Clarence Sterling Johnson of Duncan, according to the Greenville News.
Scores of people shot and wounded in Chicago
Chicago police officers are investigating the scene of a deadly shooting where a 7-year-old girl and a man were fatally shot in Chicago on Sunday, July 5, 2020. At least a dozen people were killed in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend, police said. Scores of people were shot and wounded.
President Trump responds to shootings
US President Donald Trump responded to the incidents by tweeting that crime in Chicago and New York City is 'way up'.
'Shootings up significantly in NYC where people are demanding that [Gov. Andrew Cuomo] and [Mayor Bill de Blasio] act now,' Trump continued. 'Federal Government ready, willing and able to help, if asked.'
Chicago and New York City crime numbers are way up. 67 people shot in Chicago, 13 killed. Shootings up significantly in NYC where people are demanding that @NYGovCuomo & @NYCMayor act now. Federal Government ready, willing and able to help, if asked!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2020
Girl, 8, fatally shot in Atlanta
In Atlanta an 8-year-old girl was shot and killed on the Fourth of July after at least two people in a crowd of armed people opened fire on a car she was riding in near a flash point of recent protests in Atlanta.
Police identified the girl as Secoriea Turner, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for justice during an emotional news conference on Sunday with the girl's grief-stricken mother.
The shooting happened near the Wendy's restaurant where an African American man, Rayshard Brooks, was killed by an Atlanta police officer on June 12. The fast food outlet was later burned, and the area has since become a site for frequent demonstrations against police brutality.
Authorities said the mother had attempted to drive through illegally placed barricades in the area when the vehicle came under fire on Saturday night.
"You shot and killed a baby," the mayor said, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "And there wasn't just one shooter, there were at least two shooters."
In a statement on Sunday, police said the girl was in a car with her mother and a friend of the mother and they were trying to enter a parking lot nearby. They ran into a group of armed individuals who had blocked the entrance.
"At some point, someone in that group opened fire on the vehicle, striking it multiple times and striking the child who was inside," the statement read. The driver drove the girl to Atlanta Medical Centre but she did not survive.
Police said they are seeking help from the public to identify those involved and released a wanted poster saying a person all dressed in black and another in a white T-shirt were being sought.
The mayor said there have been problems with protesters in the area putting up barriers to close off the street. She said she received a message that the barriers were back up less than an hour before she was informed that the 8-year-old girl had died.
"An 8-year-old girl was killed last night because her mother was riding down the street," Ms Bottoms said. "If Secoriea was not safe last night, none of us are safe."
The mayor urged anyone with information about the shooting to come forward.
Police said two other people, in addition to the 8-year-old, were killed and more than 20 people were injured in incidents of gunfire and violence during the long holiday weekend.
The mayor said the city's 911 system was flooded with calls on Saturday night and pointed to protesters who damaged a Georgia State Patrol headquarters in Atlanta in a separate incident early on Sunday.