The party went on into the early hours of Easter morning, before ending in tragedy.
At approximately 3:20 a.m. on Sunday, Columbus, Ohio police were called to the J&R Party Hall, an event space in the city’s South Linden neighborhood. Inside, an argument had led to a mass-shooting that sent nine people to the hospital. Some of the victims are in critical condition, police said Sunday morning.
In a statement, Columbus police described the J&R Party Hall as an “after-hours club”. But in truth, the party hall has also played host to baby showers and birthdays, costume parties and cabaret nights. When police cars surrounded the building early Sunday morning, their blue and red emergency lights clashed with the party hall’s bright LED decorations, which seemed to announce a party inside.
But inside the hall, first responders encountered a gruesome scene. Following a dispute of an unknown nature, at least one person had pulled out a gun and opened fire on party-goers. Investigators told Columbus’s NBC4 that they believed more than one person had fired shots inside the building. While searching the party hall, police found shell casings of multiple calibers, suggesting multiple guns exchanging fire, Columbus’s 10TV reported.
The bullets struck nine people, who ranged in age from 20 to 33. Most victims were young, in their early twenties. Of these nine victims, two were critically injured and transported to the Ohio State University medical center. The seven others are in stable condition at Grant Medical Center, police reported.
Police have yet to announce any suspects or motives for the shooting. After the attack, investigators searched an adjacent house and back alleyways for evidence. But the J&R Party Hall is located in a largely residential neighborhood, through which the shooters may have disappeared. Victims claimed not to have seen their attackers before they opened fire, or declined to speak with investigators, police said.
The shooting is the latest for the South Linden neighborhood, which has endured a series of gun-related tragedies in recent years. In March 2016, a five-year-old South Linden boy was shot in the head while sleeping. The boy had been in bed with his mother, who woke to the sound of gunshots on the street outside. The mother rushed to her 11-year-old son’s room to check on the older boy, who was unharmed. But when she returned to her five-year-old, “his pillow was full of blood,” she told the Columbus Dispatch. The boy was rushed to the hospital in extremely critical condition, but managed to survive. Months later in the same neighborhood, two students were shot outside their high school as class was letting out at the end of the day.
Now nine more young people are recovering from the latest incident of gun violence in South Linden. All nine people are expected to recover.