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5 people shot after 600 gather for a party in Fort Worth park

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Kaley Johnson

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Five people were injured during a shooting at a crowded southeast Fort Worth park on Sunday, according to MedStar and police.

Two people were critically wounded and three had non-life-threatening injuries in the shooting at a party about 6:30 p.m. at Village Creek Park, Fort Worth Officer Buddy Calzada said. Police didn’t release the ages of the victims. MedStar said they were all adults.

About 600 people were attending the party in the center of the park, according to police. Witnesses said fireworks were set off in the park’s center followed by about 30 rounds of gunfire, Calzada said. Police were called out to the park at 6:59 p.m.

First responders found five people injured. No arrests were announced Sunday night, and authorities were investigating who fired the shots and why.

State and federal authorities are assisting in the investigation, Calzada said, and among the Fort Worth Police Department, the gang unit is taking the lead. Homeland Security and the Special Response Team were combing through the park Sunday evening for evidence, he said.

The crowd had gathered in the park despite local and state government orders discouraging large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve tried to work with everybody to try not to cite them or ticket them, but ultimately people have a choice, and that’s just the choice they made tonight,” Calzada said. “Our job as the police is to investigate exactly what all took place here from beginning to end.”

Police were in the area when the party was going on, Calzada said, but he could not say whether or not any officers were at the gathering when the gunfire began.

Adrian Gallardo lives across the street from the park on Wilhelm Street. He said he heard 10 to 15 shots and saw “people running everywhere.”

He said there appeared to be a big party at the park, which he said is usually calm.

A group of women sitting in a yard near the park said there was a large gathering of young, possibly high school-aged, people having a party at the park. The women said they did not want their names used because they work for large companies.

One of the women sitting in the yard said groups gather at the park often, but the party was a younger crowd than usual. The women said they heard what they thought were fireworks and then realized they were gunshots. They ran inside and when they came back out, they saw a police officer chasing a man near the park.

One of the women guessed there were hundreds of people at the park, some of whom were playing with water guns.

A yellow water gun was smashed on Wilhelm Street near the park. Police tape wound across much of the grassy area near Wilbarger Street.

Raymond Brown, who has lived on Edgewood near Wilbarger Street for 24 years, said most people at the party appeared to be 18 to 20 years old.

“This is one of the few parks in Fort Worth where African-Americans feel they can go and enjoy themselves,” Brown said.

Calzada asked that if anyone has information about the shooting, they call the Fort Worth Police Department at 817-469-8477.

Another shooting was reported about 7 p.m. Sunday at a convenience store in the 4200 block of Miller Avenue less than a mile away from the park, and police said they were investigating whether the two incidents were related. A caller reported that an employee of the store was shot in the hand, according to a police incident report.

“We can’t do this on our own, we need our citizens to partner with us, we need our citizens to be right by our side,” Calzada said. “And if they continue to do that, we’re going to get through this together. But man, we’re asking for your help.”

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