Binghamton, New York: A gunman blocked the back door of an immigration services center with his car before walking through the front door firing, wounding at least six people and taking as many as 41 hostage, officials said.
Mayor Matthew Ryan told the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin that there was a hostage situation involving a gunman with a high-powered rifle.
The FBI was sending hostage negotiators and an evidence response team to the scene, said a law enforcement official who was not authorized to speak about details of an ongoing hostage response and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The gunman barricaded the rear door of the American Civic Association with his car before entering through the front door, firing his weapon, the official said.
The newspaper reported 41 hostages in the building of the American Civic Association and said apartments were being evacuated.
Emergency dispatchers were in contact with some people inside by phone, WBNG-TV reported. The gunman might still be in the building, the newspaper reported. The Binghamton SWAT team responded.
Indications were that the shooter was a young male, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he was still in the building, the law enforcement official said.
Five people with gunshot wounds were being treated at Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City, according to hospital spokeswoman Christina Boyd.
The wounded ranged in age from 20 to their mid-50s, and their conditions ranged from stable to critical, she said.
Linda Miller, a hospital spokeswoman, confirmed that a student from Binghamton University was being treated at the emergency room.
A police dispatcher who spoke to The Associated Press wouldn’t confirm a number of people shot or injured.
Around 1:00pm EST (1700 GMT), Pennie Kerber, 72, told the AP in a phone call from her home across the street that the scene appeared to be settling down.
“The cops are all standing around in the front now. They’re still all over the roof for sure,” she said. “The SWAT shooters that were to the side of the building look like they’re not there any more. It looks like it’s clearing.”
The area is in a stretch on the west side of the Chenango River in the city of about 45,000 near the Pennsylvania border. Emergency vehicles lined the streets in the neighborhood, a mix of homes and small businesses.
College student Leslie Shrager told the AP that she and her five housemates were sleeping when police pounded on the front door of their house next door to the shooting scene.
Officers escorted the six Binghamton University students outside, she said, and that’s when they learned of the shooting.
“One of our housemates thought they heard banging of some kind. But when you’re living in downtown Binghamton, it’s always noisy,” said Shrager, of Slingerlands, an Albany suburb. “Literally two minutes later the cops came and got us out.”
The American Civic Association describes itself as helping immigrants and refugees with counseling, resettlement, citizenship, family reunification and translators.