LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville's police chief pleaded Friday for the public's help in solving a chaotic shootout that killed three people and had stunned onlookers diving for cover as officers converged.
Gunfire erupted Thursday afternoon at two locations separated by a handful of houses in the city's Russell neighborhood, a crime-ridden section dotted with boarded-up houses.
Two men in their 20s were killed in the initial shootings. Then while police investigated and news reporters gathered, shots rang out again about four houses down. A woman in her 20s was fatally shot by another woman stemming from an argument about the incident, police said.
Three others were hospitalized from the hail of gunfire.
Police Chief Steve Conrad said Friday that the investigation continues and that it was premature to discuss possible charges as investigators to try piece together the chaotic events.
"We have many unanswered questions, and we need the community's help to help us solve that puzzle," Conrad said following a meeting of business, civic and religious leaders convened by the mayor.
The victims were Tyson Mimms, 24; Craig Bland Jr., 22; and Makeba Lee, 24.
Police bolstered patrols in the neighborhood but it was quiet Thursday night, Conrad said.
Police were seeking more witnesses who may have seen the first shooting and the altercation sparking the rounds of gunfire. Police guaranteed the anonymity of those stepping forward.
"It may give us the piece to help us solve the puzzle, to help us solve the questions, to help us identify charges that are appropriate," he said.
The shootings made the day the bloodiest in Louisville since at least July 5, 2011, when four people were killed, and Oct. 6, 2008, when a mother stabbed her two children, then killed herself on the same day two other homicides took place.
So far this year, Louisville has had 18 homicides — the same number as a year ago at this time, Mayor Greg Fischer said. Hours after the shootings, he attended a festival about a half-mile away where people celebrated peacefully.
"These types of incidents are not common in our communities," said LaQuandra Nesbitt, the local public health and wellness director.
Frank M. Smith Jr., senior pastor at Christ's Church For Our Community, urged the city's residents to look for ways to uplift hard-pressed neighborhoods and said the fight against violence begins at home.
"We do not want death to prevail in this community," Smith said. "We want life. And we want to choose life-prolonging decisions that prevent violence and that eradicate murder and shootings in our community."
Smith said he hoped the bloodshed in broad daylight would rally the city to become more aggressive in stemming violence.
"I think yesterday touched a new nerve," he said.
Later Friday, police responded to reports of gunshots in another neighborhood in western Louisville.
No injuries were reported and one person was detained for questioning, police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley said. Another person was believed to be barricaded in a residence as police roped off nearby streets and tried to communicate with the suspect as the standoff continued into late afternoon.
Police had no information linking the standoff to Thursday's shooting spree.