Last Updated Oct 15, 2016 8:41 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES An early morning argument at a Los Angeles restaurant operating out of a converted home apparently triggered gunfire that left three people dead and 12 wounded, two gravely, authorities said Saturday.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called the shooting the latest example of senseless gun violence that has reached epidemic proportions in the country.
“We cannot tolerate these tragedies multiplying in communities across America,” Garcetti said in a statement.
Police who arrived at the scene in a working class neighborhood dotted by tall palm trees found shell casings and blood throughout the restaurant, located west of downtown Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Police Department Officer Mike Lopez said investigators were seeking a suspect he described as a black male, possibly accompanied by a woman.
Police earlier questioned two possible suspects, but Lopez said later no one was in custody.
Three people died at the scene, and 12 others were transported to local hospitals.
Lopez said two of the victims were in grave condition. Two of the wounded were released and the others remain hospitalized with wounds are not considered life-threatening.
Police did not disclose the names or ages of the victims.
Neighbor Sheryl Cobb said she was awakened by screaming and gunfire, but never left her home for fear of getting caught in a crossfire.
“Bullets don’t have names on them,” she said.
According to a preliminary investigation, a party was underway in the restaurant at 12:30 a.m. Saturday when an argument started.
Police say the incident unfolded at a home that had been converted into a restaurant. The location appeared to be busy last night as a celebration was underway at the location, CBS Los Angeles reports.
A man and woman left, then returned, and the restaurant erupted in gunfire.
The shooting occurred in a residential area of modest homes. Investigators were snapping photographs and scouring the ground in an area around the site.
“There was some type of party there,” Lopez said. After the couple left the restaurant and returned “that’s when the shooting occurred.”
LAPD Sgt. Frank Preciado told The Los Angeles Times that the restaurant was “a bloody scene with shell casings everywhere.” About 50 people were in the restaurant when the shooting started.
One firearm was recovered.
The Times described the restaurant as a popular Jamaican eatery that features a DJ on Friday night.
Garcetti said he was confident police would unravel questions surrounding the shooting, and expressed sympathy for victims’ families. He called for an end to gun violence that “causes so much pain and sorrow in our city and across the nation.”
“I’m actually shocked to hear this, around this area because we don’t really have any problems with anybody. Everyone knows everyone and we’re all pretty much like family so to hear that, it’s pretty much shocking and I can’t believe that it literally just happened just a few doors down from my house,” neighbor Trason Leslie told CBS Los Angeles.