Three people were confirmed dead after a shooting in southern Washington state early Tuesday morning, authorities said. The gunman, whom officials have not yet identified, also may have shot a fourth person whose injuries are unknown before stealing that person’s car and fleeing the scene, according to the Yakima Police Department.
The suspect was still on the run when the department, which covers the city in Yakima’s rural valley known primarily for agriculture, shared its first and most recent update on the situation several hours after it occurred around 3:30 a.m. PT. Officers initially responded to a call that a man was “shooting” at a Circle K store, Yakima Police Chief Matthew Murray said in a press conference recorded at the location and shared on Facebook.
“It appears to be a random situation,” Murray said, noting that there was “no apparent conflict between the parties” seen in the security footage. “The guy just walked in and started shooting.”
Three people were found dead in Circle K when officers arrived, said Murray, who initially told reporters the gunman then walked across the street to an AMPM convenience store and shot a fourth person inside his car. The police chief said surveillance footage showed the fourth person moving to the passenger seat of the vehicle as the attacker proceeded to steal the car and drive east toward Moxee on State Route 24. At that time, Murray said it was unclear if the fourth person was hit, and if they were, whether the shot was fatal.
However, in a further update shared on the Yakima Police Department’s Twitter page shortly thereafter, officials said the new information suggested that “there may not have been a fourth shooting victim” and asked the public to ” Please note that this is a rapidly evolving situation.” The situation and information may change as more details are discovered.”
Murray said at the morning news conference that police intend to release photos of the suspect while mobilizing all necessary resources “to find him.” Authorities believe the suspect fled driving a gray or silver Chrysler 200 sedan.
The police chief warned the public to be aware of a potential ongoing threat to the community, as the location of the gunman remained unknown.
“This is a dangerous person. It’s random, so there is a danger to the community,” Murray said. “We don’t have a reason, we don’t know why. So we will do everything we can to locate and apprehend that person and keep the public informed.”
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