HOUSTON-Gunfire on the Texas Southern University campus wounded six people and scattered the crowd at a community rally Wednesday night, and police on Thursday were investigating whether a gang rivalry was behind the drive-by shooting.
People were gathered at the event, which included a performance by Houston rap artist Trae the Truth, when a car drove by and shots sprayed out from the vehicle, school spokeswoman Eva Pickens said, citing witness statements to police. The sound of gunfire made people drop to the pavement of the parking lot where the rally was being held to promote community service and voter registration.
"We just saw a little commotion over here to the left of me, and before you know it, there was some gunshots and everybody was hitting the ground" local music promoter Peter Role said.
Six people, including one male student and an elderly man who was sitting outside of his home across the street from the event, were being treated for injuries that were serious but not life-threatening, officials said.
"Ridiculous. It's pitiful. And whoever did it, they're wrong for it They shot an innocent man that had nothing to do with this, just sitting on his front porch minding his own business," witness Janae Sauls-High said.
Police said at least two other victims were teenagers - a 14-year-old who was shot below the left knee and an 18-year-old who was shot in the calf and ankle.
Additional information on the victims was not yet available.
Campus police believe the violence resulted from a rivalry between two gangs, one from Missouri City and the other from Fresno, a small town outside Missouri City.
"You know, I think it's an unfortunate incident. I know Trae, and he's a good dude, and he always put forth, you know, a good effort in what he do for the community so this was just an isolated incident and hopefully it will never happen again, " Role said.
Before the violence, Houston City Councilman Peter Brown and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee made appearances at the event billed as a "family block party," and Trae the Truth performed songs.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of tonight's tragedy," read Brown's Twitter page shortly after the shooting.
In the wake of the shooting, accounts differed as to who sponsored the event.
Lucinda Gwinn, who manages Peter Brown's mayoral campaign, said the event was organized by TSU, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Brown and other councilmembers and officials to promote voter registration.
But a TSU spokesperson vehemently denied that the university was a sponsor.
"This was not a Texas Southern University-sponsored event. This was a community event sponsored by Peter Brown," Angela Anderson of TSU's Department of Communications and Media Relations said.
A spokesperson for Sheila Jackson Lee said the Congresswoman was not a sponsor of the event, and her main concern is for the wellbeing of the victims.
TSU officials said they are working to find those responsible for the shootings.
"Our Texas Southern police force is doing everything to make sure that our students and the surrounding community that we serve are taken care of, and we're working with the Houston Police Department to make sure we can resolve this situation," Anderson said.
Texas Southern is a historically black university in Houston with an enrollment of around 10,000 students.