Nine wounded when gunman opens fire at birthday celebration

Monday, January 16, 2006

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Nine people were wounded early Sunday morning when a gunman opened fire at a birthday party at a Springfield hotel, but none of the injuries appeared life-threatening, police said.

Five men and four women were hit by bullets, police spokesman Matt Brown said, but eight of the victims were released from a local hospital on Sunday.

The ninth underwent surgery, but no information on that person's condition was available Sunday night.

Police have declined to provide the names or ages of any of the victims.

The hotel's banquet room had been reserved from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and had more than 120 guests inside at the time of the shooting, hotel manager Nelson Bin said.

He said he had checked on the party several times during the evening and there had been no problems.

But at 3:02 a.m., the shooting began after an apparent argument inside the room, Brown said. He did not know what caused the argument, or whether the shooter knew the victims.

"Somebody just got in there and started shooting," Bin said. "When I came down the hall, people were just running."

Bin said he entered the banquet room with an officer after police arrived, where they found one woman lying on the floor bleeding from a gunshot wound to the knee.

One woman had been shot in the foot, and another had been grazed in the chin.

Police did not release a description of the weapon, though they said they had a good idea about what kind of gun it was.

"The actual shooting itself was continual," Brown said. "He fired all the rounds, struck the victims and then left."

Police were looking for a "person of interest" Sunday. He is described as a black male who is 6-feet-2-inches tall, weighs about 165 pounds, with cornrows, gold teeth and a goatee.

Bin said the shooting had nothing to do with the hotel.

"It could have happened anywhere, not just here," he said. "But this is where it happened."


Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.springfieldnews-leader.com

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