Graduation party shooting leaves 1 dead and 8 injured

By Arielle Clay

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - One teenager is dead and eight others injured after a gunman opened fire at a graduation party in Tuscaloosa.

A spokesperson for the Tuscaloosa County metro homicide unit says the shooting that happened at The Links apartment complex is one of the biggest he has ever dealt with.  It started off as a graduation party in the clubhouse and ended with a 17-year-old dead and eight in the hospital.

"Pulled up in here to find a 16-year-old laying on the ground that had been shot and I started tending to her and there were three and four people laying around with gunshots on them," said Chris Vitson, a neighbor at the complex.

Viston says he found a chaotic scene early Sunday morning at the apartment complex where he lives.

"Get out go and they were taking off before anybody could get here," Vitson said. "They were running around screaming. There had to be over 100 people here."

The Tuscaloosa County metro homicide unit says those people were at the Links clubhouse for a graduation party hosted by a Hillcrest High School student. The night took a bad turn when a 20-year-old guest, who police say was not supposed to be there, started a fight.

"Some guests arrived who were a little older the suspect arrived with some of his friends an altercation occurred in the clubhouse during that altercation the suspect pulled a firearm and shot multiple times in the crowd," said Capt. Lloyd Baker of the homicide unit.

8 people, ages 16 to 28, were shot, including a 16-year-old girl shot in the face. A 9th person, a 17-year-old boy who was shot several times, died at the clubhouse.  Captain Baker says the suspect was shooting wildly even hitting people he came with.

"Two of the people who came with the suspect were shot and injured. One was shot and killed," Baker said. "The deceased was in the suspect's party."

The suspect left the party after police arrived and was arrested at his home.  Capt. Baker says this is an isolated incident but Vitson says that is little consolation.
"It makes you concerned, it does, cause this is a nice place that they never have security here," Vitson said. "It's scary here it is."

The suspect has been charged with murder.  Capt. Baker expects more charges to be added because of the 8 people who were injured.  
Baker also says he does not expect there to be any other arrests in this case. Police say there were adult chaperones at last night's gathering.

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