Nine children, teenagers shot at Georgia gas station, police say

Nine youths - including a 5-year-old child - were wounded after shots rang out at a gas station in a Georgia city bordering Alabama, authorities said Saturday.

Officers from the Columbus Police Department responded about 10 p.m. Friday and found multiple gunshot victims amid a large group of people.

Police Chief Freddie Blackmon said at a news conference Saturday that an altercation apparently took place at a party nearby, and it spilled over to the gas station when the shooting began. Further details were not provided, but Blackmon said the incident remained under investigation.

"I am committed to assuring you that we will find the person or persons responsible for this senseless crime," he said.

Blackmon said detectives have spoken with witnesses, some of whom are cooperating - while others are not.

"I encourage anyone with information to contact police. I encourage parents whose child was injured in this incident to make sure that any information they share with them is shared with police. We will work around the clock to resolve this case," he said.

The victims, whose names were not released, ranged in age from 5 to 17. Seven males and two females were hurt, police said. As of Saturday afternoon, at least four had been discharged from hospitals where they were treated, Blackmon said.

Authorities said none of the injuries appeared life-threatening.

Blackmon urged parents in the community to "know where your children are and what they have in their possession."

"We must work toward helping communicate to our children how to peacefully resolve conflict without resorting to gun violence," he said.

"I’m so grateful to God that we didn’t have anyone lose their life," Mayor B.H. "Skip" Henderson III said. "I’m tired of seeing folks having a disagreement or argument or maybe even a fistfight who then think they have to reach for a gun. That’s just got to stop. We’ve got to find a way in the community to reclaim our young people."

No arrests have been made, and Blackmon did not indicate whether detectives have pinpointed any suspects.

Columbus is located about 110 miles (177 kilometers) southwest of Atlanta and about 85 miles (137 kilometers) east of Montgomery, Alabama.