Four people were killed and at least eight others injured Monday in a shooting targeting a bank in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, according to US police who said the suspect — believed to be an ex-employee — died in the assault.
Police said calls had come in around 8:30 am (1230 GMT) for an “active aggressor” at the Old National Bank in Louisville, the largest city in the southern state, and that officers were on the scene within “minutes.”
Officers “encountered the suspect almost immediately, still firing gun shots,” Louisville police deputy chief Paul Humphrey told a press conference, adding that the shooter had died at the scene.
“We’re trying to confirm if that suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound or was killed by officers,” Humphrey said.
At least four other people were killed in the bank and eight were being treated for injuries at University of Louisville hospital, including two officers who were wounded in the exchange of gunfire, Humphrey added.
Police had initially given a death toll of five, but subsequently clarified that that figure included the shooter.
Two people were in critical condition, including one of the officers.
“It is clear from the officers’ response that they absolutely saved people’s lives,” said Humphrey.
Police were working to identify the victims, as well as establish the shooter’s link to the bank.
“We believe this is a lone gunman involved in this, that did have a connection to the bank,” Humphrey said, adding that “it appears he was a previous employee.”
Humphrey reiterated that there was no longer an active threat and urged residents to stay clear of the scene during what was expected to be a long investigation, likely to go “into the night.”
Windows ‘blown out’
The incident triggered a massive police deployment outside the Old National bank building.
CNN reported that some people had been able to take refuge in the bank vault and lock themselves in — contacting police from inside.
Fox affiliate WDRB cited a witness saying she heard multiple gunshots and breaking glass while in her car at an intersection near the site.
“Gunfire erupted, like, right over my head,” said the woman, who gave her name only as Debbie. “When I turned, I saw that one of the windows in the bank had been blown out,” she added.
Governor Andy Beshear tweeted: “Please pray for all of the families impacted and for the city of Louisville.”
The United States, a country of around 330 million people, is awash with some 400 million guns, and deadly mass shootings are a regular occurrence.
Efforts to tighten gun controls have for years run up against opposition from Republicans, staunch defenders of America’s constitutional right to bear arms. The political paralysis endures despite widespread outrage over recurring shootings.
In the latest illustration of the deadlock, two Tennessee lawmakers were expelled from the state legislature last week after staging a floor protest calling for tougher gun control, in the wake of a deadly shooting at an elementary school in Nashville.
Monday’s mass shooting in Louisville was the 146th of the year according to data from the Gun Violence Archive — defined as incidents in which four or more people were shot or killed, excluding the assailant.