Four people were killed and many others injured in a shooting at the weekend at a 16th birthday party in the small US town of Dadeville in Alabama.
local TV station reported that more than 20 people had been injured in the shooting, citing investigators on the scene.
“We’re going to continue to work in a very methodical way to go through this scene, to look at the facts, and ensure that justice is brought to bear for the families,” said Jeremy Burkett, a sergeant with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
He would not confirm any more details, including the number injured.
The shooting occurred at 10.34pm at the Mahogany Masterpiece Dance Studio on Saturday but officials disclosed no information about what led to the shooting in the town with a population of around 3,000.
Most of the victims are understood to be teenagers – one was named by his grandmother as Phil Dowdell, a star athlete in his high school.
It is known whether any suspects had been taken into custody.
“What has our nation come to when children cannot attend a birthday party without fear?” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
“Guns are the leading killer of children in America, and the numbers are rising – not declining. This is outrageous and unacceptable. Americans agree and want lawmakers to act on common sense gun safety reforms.”
He urged the US Congress to pass laws that would make firearms manufacturers more liable for gun violence, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and require safe storage of firearms and background checks for gun sales.
Tallapoosa County Schools Superintendent Raymond Porter said counselling would be provided at local schools today, and asked local clergy to help families through the situation.
“We will make every effort to comfort those children and don’t lose sight of the fact that those are the ones most impacted by this situation,” Mr Porter said.
The FBI, the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Fifth Circuit District Attorney’s Office had also responded to the scene and were assisting with the investigation.
The shooting occurred within weeks of two high-profile mass shootings in the nearby states of Tennessee and Kentucky, which prompted local leaders to call for tighter gun control measures last week.
Meanwhile, Republicans vying for their party’s 2024 presidential nomination and other high-profile party members tried to prove themselves most supportive of gun rights without restrictions in Indiana this weekend at the annual conference of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the country’s largest gun lobby.
A bank worker last week shot dead five colleagues and wounded nine others at his workplace in Louisville, Kentucky. On March 27, three nine-year-olds and three staff members were killed at a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, by an ex-student.
Mass shootings have become commonplace in the US. There have been more than 149 so far in 2023, the most at this point in the year since at least 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The non-profit group defines a mass shooting as four or more shot or killed, not including the shooter.