KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Two men opened fire inside a bar in Kansas City, Kansas, early Sunday, killing four people and wounding five others in a shooting believed to have stemmed from an earlier dispute, police said.
Authorities were searching Sunday for the two gunmen, said Officer Thomas Tomasic, a police spokesman. He said the two men had apparently gotten into some sort of disagreement with people inside Tequila KC Bar, left, then returned with handguns. Police released surveillance photos of the two suspects Sunday afternoon.
“We think there was something that happened in the bar earlier probably,” Tomasic said. “Unfortunately, they left and decided to take it to another level, came back and started shooting.”
Around 40 people were inside the small bar when gunfire erupted around 1:30 a.m., Tomasic said. The gunfire sent people running for the exits, with the injured leaving trails of blood as they fled. One of the injured was trying to get a ride to the hospital when ambulances arrived.
“It’s a pretty small bar, so if you have two guys come in and start shooting, people are just running, running anywhere they can,” Tomasic said.
All four men who were killed were Hispanic, but Tomasic said authorities do not believe the shooting was racially motivated. The shooting happened in a neighborhood with a large Hispanic population.
Tomasic cautioned that police were still investigating exactly what happened. He said they were reviewing surveillance video and interviewing witnesses while looking for the gunmen.
“Obviously being a bar at 1:30, stories vary a lot,” he said.
Among the dead was one man in his late 50s, another in his mid-30s and two in their mid-20s, police said. Authorities did not immediately release their names.
However, Juan Ramirez, of Kansas City, Kansas, told The Kansas City Star that his 29-year-old nephew was among those killed. He said his nephew left behind a 6-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter.
“I don’t wish this upon anybody,” Ramirez said.
Bartender Jose Valdez told the newspaper that he had refused to serve one of the suspects on Saturday night because the man had previously caused problems at the bar. Valdez said the man threw a cup at him and left, but returned later with another man shortly before closing time.
The gunfire created smoke inside the business, Valdez said, and he thought the building was “going to cave in.”
Customer Michael Barajas said he didn’t realize at first that the fast bangs he heard were gunshots. As he tried to determine who was shooting, Barajas said he felt a bullet hit his shoulder.
“I feel like I should have moved a little quicker but there was shock,” he said.
Valdez said three of the people killed were regulars whose parents also frequented the neighborhood bar.
“I don’t know what to make of it. A sad day for everybody who lost their lives and their families,” he said, choking up. “How can you go into a place full of people and just start shooting?”