Nine people were taken to area hospitals after a shooting early on Sunday morning in a busy nightlife district in Cleveland.
According to police, at around 2:30 a.m., Cleveland police assigned to the Warehouse District detail responded to a call regarding multiple people shot outside.
Area residents said rowdy behavior near the bars isn't uncommon, but the shots were alarming.
"I heard like six or seven gunshots, and it definitely seemed like something different we haven't heard," resident Ryan Melillo said. "I went out to my balcony to see everyone running."
According to a preliminary investigation at the scene, as the bars let out, an unknown person shot into a group of people standing outside, before fleeing.
Police Chief Wayne Drummond said in a press conference that officers were stationed in the Warehouse District at the time of the shooting.
"This particular individual started shooting towards the crowd," Drummond said. "The officers immediately ran to the gunfire, ran to the victims and rendered first aid. All the officers rendered first aid to the victims. As I stated, we had nine total victims, seven males and two females ranging from ages 23 to 38 years old."
The victims were taken to a local hospital. There are no life-threatening injuries at this point. Of the victims, seven are men ranging in age from their early 20s to late 30s, and two are women in their early 20s, according to officials.
Investigators are currently in the process of reviewing evidence and video and have interviewed the victims, police said.
Another shooting also happened in a residential area of the city called Tremont, officials confirmed.
Three people in that incident were taken to a local hospital in critical condition.
According to police, the incident involved an argument regarding food during a party. An individual pulled out a firearm and started shooting at three individuals. Their injuries were labeled as non-life threatening at one point, Scripps News Cleveland reported.
On Monday, Cleveland restaurant owner Bobby George confirmed he was offering a $50,000 reward for information that helps police catch the gunman in the Warehouse District shooting.
During a press conference, the city's Mayor Justin Bibb said there has been an increase in shootings across Ohio after the state's Senate Bill 215 passed last year.
Violent crime has been steadily increasing across Cleveland as the police force keeps shrinking. Cleveland City Council has invested tens of millions of dollars into public safety, recruitment efforts and crime prevention, Bibb said.
"We need better legislation at the state and federal level to get illegal guns off our streets," Bibb said.
Homicides are up nearly 30% in Cleveland this year compared to 2022, and the Cleveland police force is still short 200 officers.
"We need Republicans and Columbus to give mayors more tools to get guns off our streets," Bibb said. "I am sick and tired of getting these calls late at night. I'm sick and tired. From our residents and victims of gun violence and Republicans blaming us as mayors for violent crime. We need their help," the mayor said.
Cleveland's city council said in a statement that the body was "horrified by the shooting" and said the office is working "with local authorities and is monitoring the situation."
The statement said, "This epidemic is tearing at the fabric of our communities, and it will not end without significant legislative action."
The council said, "The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was signed into law last year, shows that Congress can take action — if we keep listening to our constituents, not the gun lobby. This legislation strengthened background checks, provided funding for enforcing red flag laws and disarming domestic abusers, support for community violence intervention, school safety funding and more."
Residents said violence is becoming too familiar, saying it's unacceptable, and a solution is needed, fast.
"I think it's terrifying knowing we are here all the time, and that’s when the bars are closing around 2 a.m. when we’re walking home," area resident Devon Ceslak told Scripps News Cleveland.
Ceslak said, "I easily could have been one of those people, which is scary."
Cleveland police are asking anyone with information on the Warehouse District shooting to contact them at 216-623-5318. Anonymous information can be provided by calling Crimestoppers at 216-25-CRIME, and a reward of up to $5,000 may be available, said police.
This story was originally published by AJ Smith, Maya Morita and Bryn Caswellat Scripps News Cleveland.
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