A lone gunman is reported to have opened fire inside a crowded night spot early Sunday morning in Greenville, wounding around a dozen people, two of them fatally..
The suspect remained at large as of mid-morning Sunday and Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said his department has little to go on in trying to identify and capture the assailant, who used a handgun to shoot at hundreds of people who were inside The Party Venue to celebrate the Texas A&M University-Commerce homecoming.
Two sheriff’s deputies were on the scene in connection with a different matter when the shots rang out at around 12:05 a.m. Sunday.
“It was just complete chaos,” Meeks said, as he provided an outline for the events during a morning press conference.
The sheriff’s office was notified at around 11:30 p.m. of a large party and potential traffic hazard due to overflow parking at the business at 2275 U.S. Highway 380, just west of the Greenville city limits.
“The first deputies arrived at 11:41 p.m.,” Meeks said. "The officers were investigating a possible intoxicated party goer at the front of the club when the shots fired call came in. Within five minutes the deputies contacted dispatch to report there were multiple victims.
“As of this press conference, we have had 16 people injured, 12 of those were from gunshot wounds and two were pronounced deceased,” Meeks said, indicating there were more than 750 people were inside the building at the time.
A post from the venue's Facebook page in March stated that it held a capacity of 500 people.
Despite the large number of people inside the business, no one was able to provide officers with a clear description of the suspect.
Meeks said the individual, a male, was believed to have entered the back door of the club while the officers were still in the front. Based on some witness statements, the suspect appeared to be searching for one person in particular and fired at that person first. The male victim was one of the two fatalities.
“After that he just apparently started firing at random,” Meeks said.
A male was also the second person shot and killed.
The identities of the fatal victims were not released, as the next of kin had not yet been notified as of the time of the press conference. Hunt County Justice of the Peace Wayne Money ordered autopsies on the individuals and they were transported to the Southwest Institute for Forensic Science in Dallas.
Meeks said most of the people at the party were “in their late teens to early 20s” and that “four or five” of the wounded were students at the university.
Although publicized as a homecoming party, the event was not sanctioned by the university, Meeks said, and was hosted by a group called the “Good Fellows” in Commerce.
Some of the people at the party were also dressed in costume and apparently dropped fake bullets in their rush from the scene, which added to the confusion.
Meeks said his investigators are frustrated by how only a very few people have come forward to offer their statements, with the majority of those who were in the club not cooperating with authorities.
He credited his patrol sergeant who was at the scene, who drove one of the shooting victims to Hunt Regional Healthcare hospital in Greenville, while one of the deputies provided first aid and CPR to another victim.
“I believe their efforts may have saved those victim’s lives,” Meeks said.
In addition to the sheriff’s officers, an off-duty Farmersville ISD Police Department officer was on scene and had been hired by the club to provide security.
Meeks said the FBI and Texas Rangers are assisting in the investigation and he is urging anyone with information about the case to contact the sheriff’s office at 903-453-6800 or, if they choose to remain anonymous, to call Crime Stoppers at 903-457-2929.