WASHINGTON: Five people have been killed and at least six others hospitalised following a shooting targeting a bank in downtown Louisville in the southern United States according to police who said that the assailant had been neutralised.
Police tweeted that calls had come in at around 8.30am local time for an “active aggressor” at the Old National Bank in Louisville, the largest city in the state of Kentucky, and that officers were on the scene in “minutes”.
“Five people have been confirmed to have been killed inside. At least six were transported to University of Louisville hospital, including one officer with various injuries,” a police spokesman told a press conference, adding that he could not confirm the status of the injured.
“There is no active danger to the public at this time,” said the spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Paul L Humphrey.
“There is no longer an active aggressor threat. The suspected shooter has been neutralized,” the police department confirmed on Twitter, while urging residents to stay clear of the area.
The incident triggered a massive police deployment outside the Old National Bank building.
CNN reported that some people had been able to take refuge in the bank vault and lock themselves in – contacting police from inside.
Fox affiliate WDRB cited a witness saying that she heard multiple gunshots and breaking glass while in her car at an intersection near the site of the shooting.
“Gunfire erupted, like, right over my head,” said the woman, who gave her name only as Debbie. “When I turned, I saw that one of the windows in the bank had been blown out,” she added.
Governor Andy Beshear tweeted that he was headed to the scene, adding: “Please pray for all of the families impacted and for the city of Louisville.”
The United States, a country of around 330 million people, is awash with about 400 million guns, and deadly mass shootings are a regular occurrence.
Efforts to tighten gun controls have for years run up against opposition from Republicans, staunch defenders of America’s constitutional right to bear arms.
The political paralysis endures despite widespread outrage over recurring shootings.
In the latest illustration of the deadlock, two Tennessee lawmakers were expelled from the state legislature last week after staging a floor protest calling for tougher gun control, in the wake of a deadly mass shooting at an elementary school in Nashville.
Monday’s mass shooting in Louisville was the 146th of the year according to data from the Gun Violence Archive – defined as incidents in which four or more people were shot or killed, excluding the assailant.