May 19 (UPI) — One person died and eight others were wounded in a shooting at a high school graduation party in southern Alabama.
The shooting occurred early Saturday in Atmore’s community center, which formerly was Escambia County Middle School, Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks told WWLP-TV. Atmore, which has a population of 10,194, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, is 52 miles northwest of Mobile.
One unidentified person was found dead in the cafeteria, police said. One female was transported by medical helicopter to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., in unknown condition, WKMG-TV reported. Six other unidentified people were treated and released from Atmore Hospital.
The graduation party was for Escambia County High School, which has around 500 students.
“It’s always a great day to be a Blue Devil, but yesterday was a day of triumph and tragedy,” Escambia High Principal Dennnis Fuqua said in a statement on the school’s Facebook page. “By day, our seniors experienced the high of obtaining $8.6 million in scholarships, and our varsity football team experienced their first win of the season.
“Yet, by night we all felt the pangs of tragedy due to the acts of violence that have left several of our past and present students injured. It is unfortunate that the event at the community center has tainted the success our seniors and football team felt, but we love our Blue Devil Family and will continue to pray for wisdom and healing.”
Around 2 a.m., gunshots were heard from the building. When officers arrived, Brooks said they saw more than 300 people running around.
The police chief said two women were fighting with more people joining in and shots fired.
Police are looking for at least three suspects.
Brooks noted an invitation to this party spread fast on social media.
As of the 2010 census, Atmore had a population of 10,194, with an estimated population of 10,006 in 2014.
Atmore is part of Escambia County, which has three public high schools: Escambia, Flomation and W.S. Neal.