GREENVILLE, Texas – Two men who died when a gunman opened fire at a crowded weekend party facility were identified Monday as Kevin Berry, Jr., 23, of Dallas, and Byron Craven, Jr., also 23, of Arlington, a Dallas suburb.
Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said the shooter, who has not been identified, escaped from the scene in the “complete chaos” afterwards and is the subject of an intense search.
He said the gunman may have been targeting one individual in particular before randomly firing his handgun into the crowd. Six other partygoers were injured, four critically. Others suffered cuts and bruises as they fled through broken windows and rushed from the scene.
The shooting occurred shortly after midnight Saturday at “The Party Venue” along U.S. Highway 380 on the outskirs of Greenville, Texas. The facility’s Facebook page said it hosts many events, including reunions and birthday celebrations.
The sheriff described the partygoers as in their late teens and early 20s, attending an off-campus Texas A&M-Commerce homecoming party and a “Twerk or Tweet” costume party promoted by the venue.
He said the two men killed were not from the college, which is located 15 miles northeast of the party facility.
Meeks said investigators have interviewed several witnesses to the shooting but none provided a detailed description of the gunman.
“It appalls me that as many folks that were there, we have very little to go on,” said Meeks. “We need to get him off the street as soon as possible.”
An estimated 750 partygoers crammed into the 8,000-square-foot entertainment facility designed to accommodate 500 people, the sheriff said.
The overcrowding, he added, “gave the opportunity for the shooter to accomplish whatever he wanted to be able to accomplish. When you have that many people in one place, it’s an easy target.”
Monday morning, security measures were increased at Greenville High School after a student working at a fast food restaurant overhead a customer say a similar act of violence would occur there. But a school district police officer who interviewed the student said it was not a “viable threat.”
On Sunday afternoon during a Dallas vigil for friends and relatives of Berry, who died from bullet wounds, erupted when attendees heard several gunshots. Dallas police said no one was injured and that an investigation is underway.
Before the Saturday night shooting, sheriff’s deputies were beckoned to investigate complaints about illegal parking at the venue. Meeks said they were questioning an apparent intoxicated person outside the front of the building when the gunshots rang out.
University officials said the school had not sanctioned the party. They said four university students were treated and released from hospitals for minor injuries.
The university scheduled a Monday afternoon vigil at the school's amphitheater for the dead and injured victims of the shooting.
Details for this story were provided by the Greenville, Texas, Herald-Banner and the Associated Press.