HOUSTON — Two people were shot to death and 20 wounded late Saturday at what the sheriff called a “birthday party gone wild” that drew a crowd after it was advertised on social media.
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said investigators were seeking two suspects late Sunday in connection with the shooting, reported at 10:49 p.m. in suburban Cypress, about 30 miles northwest of Houston.
He urged the public to contact investigators with tips, and said investigators would be searching for clues on the Internet as well.
“Social media I believe caused part of the problem in this situation, and social media may be able to help,” Garcia said at a briefing outside the house Sunday.
An 18-year-old boy shot in the head in the street outside the party died at the scene, while a 16-year-old girl shot inside the party house died at a hospital, Garcia said. Both were students at nearby Cypress Springs High School, he said. The sheriff did not release their names.
The injured ranged in age from 16 to 20, investigators said. Of the total injured, 16 suffered gunshot wounds to the chest, leg and hands, while four suffered injuries as they fled, including broken arms, legs and sprained ankles, investigators said.
One of the injured was in critical condition, Garcia said.
Garcia described the two suspects as men ages 22 and 17.
He said the girl who threw the 18th birthday party had advertised it on social media, drawing a crowd of more than 100 that could not fit in the house.
“Any time you promote a party on social media, you have no control over who comes to your door,” Garcia said.
The girl’s mother was home during the party, Garcia said. Investigators found no sign of narcotics or an “inordinate amount” of alcohol, he said, and no one had been charged in connection with the party.
He said the hosts had a bouncer who was checking guests for firearms. The suspects refused to be patted down, left and then likely returned through the backyard, which faces a bayou, investigators said.
Once inside the house, Garcia said, one suspect fired his gun into the air “in apparent appreciation of music” and then the second fired into the crowd. It was not clear which fired first. One victim was standing near the DJ, another near the front door, Garcia said.
In the mad rush that ensued, partygoers tried to jump out windows in the two-story brick house and force their way out through a garage door, Garcia said.
The girl who threw the party, Mariah Boulden, said she posted her name and address on Facebook,Instagram and Twitter, but only invited friends. She figured her brother acting as bouncer was enough security -- until the suspects showed up with some other, older strangers.
“They was too old to be in here. This was a high school party,” Boulden said as she stood in front of the house Sunday, adding that “they knew they wasn’t supposed to bring guns inside.”
Boulden said she was about to shut down the party because of the uninvited older guests when the shooting started.
One of her relatives, B. Tucker, said she had to help a girl who was shot in the back.
“There’s blood everywhere and bullet holes in the wall,” Tucker said. “This is exactly what we didn’t want to happen.”
Firefighters came to wash bloodstains from the street Sunday, but some remained.