The shootings that left two dead and five injured at Thanksgiving Day’s Juice Bowl in Shawnee Park have rattled residents and left some public officials frustrated as Louisville homicides continue to climb.
Metro police said on Friday that the shootings appear to be related to a dispute at a gathering that was separate from the annual youth football game but only a couple hundred yards away.
“It appears they were in the park socializing, doing separate events unrelated to the Juice Bowl,” said Lt. Emily McKinley during a news conference Friday afternoon.
Asked to elaborate on why police believe the shootings – which took place in close proximity to the event, which draws hundreds to gather and celebrate – are unconnected to the Juice Bowl, McKinley declined.
The shootings resulted in the city’s 111th and 112th homicides of the year, setting a record with more than a month left in 2016. On Friday, police said the victims were Michael Carter, 26, and William McKee, 32. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Police did not release any information about a suspect or suspects.
Metro Councilwoman Jessica Green, whose district is adjacent to Shawnee Park, took to Facebook late Thursday to share her disappointment with the response from Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro Police to the record-breaking number of homicides in the city this year.
In an interview Friday, Green said she was heartbroken over the shootings. She also challenged the mayor and police to provide more resources in West Louisville.
Fischer, who was attending the Juice Bowl when the shootings occurred, condemned the violence in a series of tweets Thursday.
To have people with guns so disrespect life, Shawnee Park, and neighborhood tradition is sad and has no place in our city.
— Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) November 24, 2016
“He got to witness firsthand what people in the urban core, what people in West Louisville, what primarily a black, poor population has to experience on a daily basis,” Green said of the mayor.
LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW IN THE AUDIO PLAYER ABOVE
This is the second time this year that gunfire has erupted during a major daytime public event in the city; a shooting during the Pegasus Parade in early May left two teens wounded.
Metro police and the mayor are asking for anyone with information relating to Thursday’s shooting in Shawnee Park to come forward.
In response to the record-setting homicides and gun violence that have plagued Louisville this year, Metro police have reorganized how they investigate shootings, putting all shootings under the purview of the homicide unit.
The department has also disbanded its flex units, which Green and other Metro Council members have said should be re-established to give police a better sense of what’s happening in neighborhoods with high rates of violence and drug crime.
Fischer said earlier this year he was providing more funding for police, allowing for the hiring of 28 more officers. And Metro Council earlier this year authorized funding for police to invest in gunshot-detection technology, which has a spotty track record in other cities.
Listen to the full interview with Councilwoman Green: