Nine children, ages 5 to 17, shot at Georgia gas station; police investigating

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Police on Monday continued to search for a motive in a shooting that left nine children injured at a Georgia gas station.

The victims, whose names were not released, ranged in age from 5 to 17, Columbus Police Department Police Chief Freddie Blackmon said. The shooting took place late Friday night in Columbus, about 110 miles southwest of Atlanta and about 85 miles east of Montgomery, Alabama.

Seven males and two females were hurt, the chief told reporters during a news conference on Saturday.

None of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries, Blackmon said.

According to an incident report obtained by USA TODAY on Monday, after police responded to the scene, detectives learned at least one of the juveniles, a 13-year-old male, had also suffered broken bones.

A motive in the shooting was not immediately known by police, the report shows.

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What we know about police response:

  • Officers from the department responded at about 10 p.m.
  • Police found multiple gunshot victims amid a large group of people outside the Shell gas station just off Highway 27.
  • At least four of the victims were discharged from hospitals where they were treated as of Saturday.
  • As of Monday, no arrests had been made in the case.

The victims:

The victims of the shooting were identified as seven males – ages 5, 12, 13, 14, 15, 15 and 17 – and two females, both 13.

How the shooting transpired

The chief said police believe an altercation took place at a party nearby and it spilled over to the gas station when the shooting began.

Blackmon said the 5-year-old victim was at the gas station with a family member and was not at the particular location where the party took place.

The incident remained under investigation on Monday, police said.

Blackmon said detectives have spoken with witnesses, some of whom are cooperating – while others are not.

“I am committed to assuring you that we will find the person or persons responsible for this senseless crime,” he said. “Incidents like this, really impact all of us.”

“I encourage anyone with information to contact police. I encourage parents whose child was injured in this incident to make sure that any information they share with them is shared with police. We will work around the clock to resolve this case,” Blackmon said.

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During the news conference, the chief did not say whether detectives have pinpointed any suspects.

“I’m so grateful to God that we didn’t have anyone lose their life,” Mayor B.H. “Skip” Henderson III said. “I’m tired of seeing folks having a disagreement or argument or maybe even a fistfight who then think they have to reach for a gun. That’s just got to stop. We’ve got to find a way in the community to reclaim our young people.”

Incident marks 82nd mass shooting in US this year

The Georgia shooting marked the 82nd mass shooting so far this year in the United States, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one with four or more victims, not including the shooter.

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Last year, the U.S. saw 647 mass shootings.

Contributing: Associated Press

Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

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