KENTUCKY (CNN) – Gunfire erupted near an annual Thanksgiving Day football event in Kentucky, leaving two people dead and five others wounded, Louisville Metro Police said.
The shootings, shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday, happened during what locals know as the annual Juice Bowl, which fills Shawnee Park with hundreds of children and adults for a series of holiday football games.
Stephen Washburn was streaming a Facebook Live video when the shooting could be heard in the background. There were 19 shots. The shooters are not visible in the video.
The city’s mayor, who was about 200 yards from the gunfire, was safely whisked away by security.
No arrests so far
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined the investigation into the shootings, CNN affiliate WAVE reported.
The shooters got away, according to Dwight Mitchell, a spokesman for the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Lt. Emily McKinley told reporters Friday that the shootings, which involved people not participating in the Juice Bowl, stemmed from a dispute. No arrests have been made.
Police revised the number of injured Friday from four to five. Their injuries are not life threatening.
“This is very tragic,” Mitchell said. “I’m saddened. We’ve had over 100 homicides in our city… It is a day to be thankful and we’re thankful that more people were not hurt.”
Deadly new homicide record
The Thanksgiving Day deaths brought Louisville’s 2016 homicide count to 112, Mitchell said. The record high was 110 homicides in 1971, WAVE reported.
Relatives and friends of the dead and wounded could be seen crying inconsolably in video shot by WAVE. They tried to get by police tape that crisscrossed the shooting scene but were held back.
Police vehicles were scattered across an open field. A football game continued on another stretch of the vast field.
“We’ve had the annual Juice Bowl event going on for decades,” mayoral spokesman Chris Poynter said. “It’s a family event. It’s a festive atmosphere now marred by senseless violence.”
In a Facebook message, Mayor Greg Fischer wrote: “To have people with guns so disrespect life, Shawnee Park, and neighborhood tradition is sad and has no place in our city.”
He urged residents with information to contact police.
“Witnesses who remain silent, as has been the case with too many shootings in the past, will solve nothing,” he wrote.
A decades-old tradition
Donna Grimes told WAVE her grandfather and his friends started the Juice Bowl tradition 50 years ago. Hundreds of people would gather in the park before Thanksgiving dinner. The event was a family affair.
“This is the first time ever (that) shots were fired,” Grimes told the station.
The dead and wounded were sprawled across the grassy field, she said.
“It does not make sense,” Grimes said of the violence.
“Locking these guys up don’t mean nothing. Send them to fight the war since they want to shoot some guns. It’s a sad time for Thanksgiving and it’s a sad day for the Juice Bowl.”