An unidentified assailant opened fire Thursday at a warehouse complex north of Baltimore, killing and wounding multiple people in the latest US mass shooting, authorities said.
There were reports that the incident was a rare mass shooting by a woman, but police would not confirm the gender of the attacker, merely reporting that they were in a critical condition at a local hospital.
“I can confirm multiple wounded and multiple fatalities,” Jeffrey Gahler, the sheriff of Harford County, Maryland, told reporters.
US media said three people were killed and two others wounded in the incident, which unfolded around 9:00 am (1300 GMT) at a distribution center for the Rite Aid drugstore chain.
Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital spokesman Raymond Fang said four adults had been brought in with gunshot wounds, according to local station WBAL-TV. Other victims were taken to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware, it said.
“The lone suspect in this incident is in custody and in critical condition at a local hospital,” Gahler said.
He said the assailant was apparently armed with a single handgun “and no shots (were) fired by any officers responding to the scene” — most likely indicating that the shooter’s injuries were self-inflicted.
“We do not believe there is an additional threat anywhere to the Harford County community,” Gahler added.
Police, firefighters and other emergency responders arrived within minutes of receiving a call at 9:06 am.
– ‘Completely bombarded’ –
“We got completely bombarded by — I’m not exaggerating — 20-30 cops, and then ambulances and everything started pouring in,” one man told WBAL-TV.
“At that point, they blocked us in and we tried to turn around,” he said. “They’re telling us that there is an active shooter.”
David Graf, a local businessman, said police “have the whole area blocked off. We’ve not been able to get in or out. We have our businesses locked down, so we’re closed. There’s not any way to get out of the area.”
Deadly shootings are common in the United States, where the right to bear arms is protected by the US constitution.
The incident is the latest in an epidemic of gun violence that has struck schools and workplaces almost at random across the United States.
Attacks by women are extremely rare, however, accounting for less than five percent of the total, according to law enforcement officials and academics.
Thursday’s attack came five months after an Iran-born female animal rights activist gunned down three people before killing herself at YouTube’s California headquarters.
Maryland made grim headlines around the world in June when five employees of Capital-Gazette newspapers died after a gunman stormed their Annapolis office.
The man police say is responsible had harassed the newspapers’ employees for years over an article about criminal stalking charges against him, the Baltimore Sun reported.