WASHINGTON: US police were on a manhunt Thursday for two individuals suspected of shooting dead five people at a backyard barbecue in the northeastern US state of Pennsylvania.
Three women and a man died at the shooting scene, while another woman died of her wounds in the hospital, in the late Wednesday bloodbath in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wilkinsburg, police said in a statement.
Three others — two men and a women — were wounded in the shooting and hospitalised, police said.
“The ballistic evidence on the scene leads police to believe that two different weapons were discharged from two different people,” according to the statement.
Police believe the victims were ambushed: one shooter forced the partygoers to seek cover, while a second shooter opened fire from the side or behind them.
There were no arrests, and police were urging witnesses to help their investigation.
The Allegheny county medical examiner later identified the fatalities as four women between the ages of 25 and 37, and a 35 year-old man.
All were African-Americans, and the man and two of the female victims were siblings.
Of the hospitalised victims, the woman was treated and released, while the two men remain “in critical condition,” the statement said.
Wilkinsburg has a population of about 16,000, is located around six miles east of Pittsburgh.
Police said shots were fired from an alley, and that when partygoers tried to seek cover in the home, someone on the side or backyard next to the residence opened fired at the back porch, where all four deaths at the scene occurred.
Investigators currently do not believe that any of the victims fired back during the shooting, Lieutenant Andrew Schurman of the Allegheny County Police Department told AFP.
According to CBS affiliate KDKA, neighbors reported hearing 30 to 40 shots ring out.
Emergency dispatchers said seven ambulances were called to the chaotic scene, local broadcaster WPXI reported.
Neighborhood resident Kayla Alexander told WPXI that the street where the shooting occurred is not known for crime.
“This street is always quiet, there’s nothing but kids on this street,” Alexander said.
“I’m shaken … it’s pretty sad.”
Local media footage from the scene early Thursday showed a massive police presence and streets blocked off as distraught onlookers wept and hugged.
Multiple shell casings littered the ground in the alley as detectives scoured the scene.
WPXI reported that some said they had lost family members.
“My baby! My baby!” one woman at the scene could be heard screaming, according to WTAE-TV Pittsburgh.
The rampage represents the latest mass shooting to rock the United States.
Last month, a factory worker killed three people and wounded 17 in a shooting spree in Kansas.
Other recent mass shootings include a rampage by an Uber driver that left six people dead in Michigan, and the December terror attack in San Bernardino, California, where 14 people lost their lives.
Gun violence is responsible for some 30,000 deaths per year in the country, with 330 mass shooting incidents recorded last year.