By JUAN A. LOZANO
A house party in suburban Houston to celebrate a girl’s 18th birthday erupted into gunfire that killed two teens, wounded many others, and caused some partygoers to flee for their lives through second-story windows, authorities said Sunday.
Saturday’s party in Cypress, an unincorporated area about 25 miles northwest of Houston, was promoted openly on several social media sites and drew more than 100 people, most of them 17- to 19-year-olds, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said. The birthday girl’s mother attended the party at her home.
He said people were apparently dancing in the home at about 11 p.m. when someone fired a pistol in the air in celebration. In the ensuing confusion, someone else began firing into the crowd, causing people to stream into the narrow street, Garcia said.
After giving varying reports of how many people were injured, authorities clarified Sunday that 20 people were hurt, including 16 who were wounded by gunfire — two critically — and four others who suffered injuries while trying to flee.
The two people killed, one an 18-year-old boy and the other a 16-year-old girl, were students at Cypress Springs High School, Garcia said.
He said investigators were seeking two suspected gunmen — one of whom is believed to be about 17 years old and the other who is thought to be about 22.
Garcia chastised the party organizers, who advertised the event on social media, saying “you have no control on who to expect at your door. It’s a horrible combination of immaturity, access to a firearm, and the inability to control one’s self.”
Mariah Boulden, who said it was her birthday party, said the bouncer patted people down as they entered the home. Two men refused to be searched and walked away, but they apparently hopped a neighbor’s fence and entered through a back gate.
“They weren’t supposed to be here, whoever they were,” Boulden said.
Sheriff’s spokesman Thomas Gilliland said that when deputies first arrived at the home about 25 miles northwest of Houston, they were met by “mass chaos” and “kids were literally everywhere.” He said witnesses reported partygoers jumping from the second floor in their scramble to flee.
Bruno Figueroa, who lives a few houses away, told the AP he heard five to 10 shots. He looked out his window and saw at least 30 people running down his street.