Police say Howard Amon Park shooting victim in serious condition
RICHLAND, Wash. --What started as a normal Fourth of July celebration at Howard Amon Park turned to chaos as gunshots, not fireworks, filled the air.
Sergio Rivera, 24, of Pasco was shot Wednesday around 7:52 p.m. while the park was crowded with hundreds of people during a Fourth of July celebration, according to the Richland Police Department (RPD).
At least one gunman opened fire near the community center at the park in Richland, sending people running as others tried to give medical attention.
The victim went to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.
"It just happened so fast,” said a witness who wished to remain anonymous. “We thought it was all fireworks so we didn't really know what was going on until we saw all the people running towards us."
Howard Amon Park in Richland is known for its family friendly setting. Now some are saying they may never return.
"Just to think we could have been part of that and seen something like that, or that someone would have got hurt like a little kid. That's really really scary to me, “ the witness said.
Police say the whole thing started as an argument that quickly escalated and got out of hand.
"There are multiple suspects who we believe are involved outstanding, but we do know who they are, and we're going to be working to apprehend them in the next day or so,” said Drew Florence with Richland Police.
Witnesses say after hearing the shots, parents grabbed their children leaving strollers behind.
"When everybody heard the gunshots everybody just started running,” said a friend of the victim who wished to remain anonymous. “Everybody just cleared out, there was hella kids around there, like hella families"
Police say the incident is isolated, and there is no reason to feel unsafe in the park.
"The fact that these were groups that know each other, this was not just a random incident,” Florence said.
Community members say they still feel safe in Richland, but this might prevent them from bringing their children to Howard Amon Park.
"It makes me feel really sad that it happened in our wonderful community,” said Richland resident William Priest.
Authorities say, the victim reportedly went into surgery Thursday and is expected to pull through. He is reported to be in serious but stable condition at this time.
Police closed the park after the shooting, but it reopened the next morning.
Richland detectives continue to investigate this shooting.
Police are asking anyone with information regarding this incident to contact the RPD, or message them at their Facebook page.