3 wounded in shooting that sparks panic at Pike entertainment district in Long Beach

Three people, including a 13-year-old, were wounded in a drive-by shooting Saturday evening outside The Pike in Long Beach, police said.

The gunfire sent people scrambling for cover at the popular shoreline entertainment district, which was crowded with shoppers and diners when the shooting erupted around 7:30 p.m.

Mary Gutierrez said she was in her car outside the shopping center when she heard three pops that “sounded like fireworks.”

“Then everyone started dropping to the floor,” she said. “Everyone was covering up their kids.”

Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said the three people wounded—two men and the 13-year-old—were standing near Aquarium Way and Shoreline Drive when someone opened fire from a vehicle nearby.

Two of the victims were in stable condition, Luna said, but one was critically wounded, “So we’re praying that he makes it.” It’s not clear yet if the victims were the intended targets.

Luna said police have detained “three people of interest” in the shooting. As to whether the shooting was gang-related, Luna said that was “definitely on the table but we don’t know yet.”

The shooting happened directly in front of the Hooters restaurant near The Pike. At least one bullet came flying through the restaurant’s door, and one of the victims ran inside, Luna said, causing a measure of panic.

“It’s not every day that a bullet goes through your front door and there’s blood all over the floor,” he said.

Tim Pounders, a bartender at nearby Outback Steakhouse, said he also heard what sounded like fireworks. “Then people ran into the restaurant,” he said. Pounders said Outback staff then closed off the restaurant “and just tried to keep people there safe.”

Luna said officers were on scene quickly; some were already in the area working overtime.

“The city of Long Beach was at full attention because we have an increase in our shootings,” the chief said.

Earlier this year, shootings in Long Beach surged to levels not seen in at least five years. Luna emphasized that violent crime has been rising in many major cities across the country. Police have pointed to the pandemic, early releases for prisoners and soaring gun sales as possible reasons for the rise in violence.

For months, the LBPD has had extra officers on the streets focused on seizing guns and tamping down shootings in hotspots across the city.

Other apparent witnesses to Saturday’s shooting immediately took to social media to describe what they saw:

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information from Long Beach police.

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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