Five shot at high school student gathering in Maryland park

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — Five young people were shot Friday afternoon when gunfire broke out during a high school “senior skip day” gathering in a park in Greenbelt, a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., according to police.

The victims were hospitalized, with one in critical condition and the others in stable condition, Greenbelt Police Chief Rick Bowers said during a news conference Friday evening. The victims were ages 16 to 18.

Bowers said about 500 to 600 high school students convened in the park, where they were having a water gun fight — an annual tradition of sorts for high school seniors in the area. He said a similar event happened last year with no issues.

Because it was such a large group in a relatively small space, police arrived at Schrom Hills Park about 10 minutes before gunfire broke out, Bowers said. Officers were monitoring the gathering, not responding to other potential criminal activity.

Bowers said investigators believe there was a single shooter who left the scene in a crowd that fled immediately after the shooting. He said a motive has not been determined and declined to speculate about whether the victims were intended targets.

“This is a horrible, tragic, senseless act that happened today,” he said. “It is chronic in our society and we have to do something to stop it.”

Prince George’s County Police and Maryland State Police also responded to the scene.

Officers reported hearing about 8 to 10 gunshots and immediately started providing medical care to the injured youths, Bowers said.

Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan said he was grateful the officers were able to respond so quickly.

“Our thoughts are with the families, with the classmates, with the victims,” he said. “If a group of high school students cannot get together and have a good time — what is the world coming to.”