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5 Maryland teens shot, 1 critically injured, during water gun fight for senior skip day

4/19: CBS Morning News
4/19: CBS Morning News 20:00

Authorities are searching for at least one suspect who shot five teenagers, one of whom was critically wounded, during a water gun fight Friday celebrating "senior skip day" at a park in Greenbelt, Maryland, authorities said. 

"These were kids on senior skip day who were looking to have a good time at a local park," Greenbelt Police Chief Richard Bowers said at a news conference later on Friday evening. "And to have something like this occur, is just — it's maddening, honestly." 

Hundreds of teens who had skipped school in Prince George's County for the tradition had initially gathered in Bowie, Maryland, said Greenbelt police spokesperson Ricardo Dennis. 

When both Bowie and Prince George's County police scattered the crowd, about 500 students eventually reconvened at Schrom Hills Recreation Center in Greenbelt, Dennis said. The meet-up had been informally organized on social media authorities said. 

Students will leave school and head to the park with super soakers and squirt guns and "have a good time playing water gun battles," Bowers said, adding teens had a similar water gun fight last year with no incidents.  

The Schrom park is not large and there were a lot of teens crowded into a small space, said Bowers, so officers requested backup. 

Officers were monitoring the water gun fight when live shots from "someone who brought a real gun" were heard, Bowers said. There were about eight to 10 shots fired, Bowers disclosed, and the area was immediately secured while officers searched for a suspect. 

Most of the teenagers left the park as police responded, Dennis said, and a critically injured victim was airlifted to an area hospital. Four other victims were hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, he said. 

Authorities had earlier reported that two of the victims were in critical condition, but downgraded that to one in the evening news conference. 

Two of the shooting victims were under the age of 18, and the other three were over 18, police said. 

Investigators believe the suspect fled the park with the other teens. Police are still investigating whether the gun was fired by someone who was participating in the water gun fight.   

"This is a horrible, tragic, senseless act that happened today. There is absolutely no reason that this occurred. It is senseless, it is chronic in our society, and we have to do something to stop it," Bowers said. 

— Allie Weintraub contributed to this report.

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