Three people were confirmed dead after a shooting in southern Washington state early Tuesday morning, authorities said. The gunman, whom officials have not yet identified, may have also shot a fourth person whose injuries are unknown before stealing that person's car and fleeing the scene, according to the Yakima Police Department.
The suspect remained at large when the department — which covers the city in the rural Yakima Valley, known mainly for agriculture — shared its first and most recent update on the situation several hours after it occurred at around 3:30 a.m. PT. Officers initially responded to a call that reported a man "shooting parties" at a Circle K convenience store, said Yakima Police Chief Matthew Murray at a news conference recorded at the scene and shared on Facebook.
"It appears to be a random situation," said Murray, noting that "there was no apparent conflict between the parties" seen on security footage. "The male just walked in and started shooting."
Three people were found dead at the Circle K when officers arrived, said Murray, who initially told reporters that the gunman then crossed the street to an AMPM convenience store, and shot a fourth person inside their car. The police chief said surveillance footage showed the fourth person move into the passenger seat of the vehicle as the gunman proceeded to steal the car and drive East toward Moxee on state Route 24. At the time, Murray noted that it was unclear whether the fourth person was hit, and if they were, whether the shot was fatal.
However, in an additional update shared to the Yakima Police Department's Twitter page shortly after, officials said that new information suggested "there may not have been a fourth shooting victim," and asked the public to "keep in mind that this is a rapidly evolving situation and information may change as further details are uncovered."
BREAKING NEWS- UPDATE FROM CHIEF MURRAY— Yakima P.D. (@yakimapolice) January 24, 2023
Please see YPD Facebook link below https://t.co/IUi2wDUFYS
Murray said at the morning news conference that police intend to release photos of the suspect as they mobilize all resources necessary "to find him." Authorities believe that the suspect fled driving a grey or silver Chrysler 200 sedan.
The police chief warned the public to be aware of a potential ongoing threat to the community as the gunman's location remained on the run.
"This is a dangerous person. It's random so there is a danger to the community," Murray said. "We don't have a motive, we don't know why. So we will do everything we can to locate and apprehend that person and keep the public informed."