(Reuters) - Two people were killed and four hospitalized on Monday after a young man opened fire at a public library in the small city of Clovis, New Mexico, local officials said.
The man began shooting at the library at around 4.00 pm (6.00 pm ET) and was arrested after police surrounded the building.
The killings at such a public place was a tragic blow for the farm town close to the Texas border, said Clovis Mayor David Lansford.
“This is a big blow to our community,” Lansford said at a news conference. “Two individuals have lost their lives. Their families will not see them come home.”
The names and ages of the victims were not released, but a spokesman for University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, said three people were being treated there Monday evening and a fourth was en route. Spokesman Eric Finley said that two of the patients already at the facility about 100 miles (161 kms) southeast of Clovis were in critical condition.
Library patron Vanessa Aguirre said she was in the Clovis-Carter Public Library with her son when a man came in and “started to shoot” into the air, The Eastern New Mexico News reported. “It all happened so fast,” she told the newspaper. “We took off fast. My purse is still in there.”
The newspaper’s website showed images of armed police approaching the library, a young man being led away by a police officer and a woman, who appeared to be injured, being carried into an ambulance.
Police chief Douglas Ford said at the news conference that the man was the suspect. He would not release the alleged shooter’s name or age, but said that he gave himself up to police when they arrived on the scene.
Ford would not release details about the victims, other than to say the two people who died were both female. Those injured included two female victims and two male victims, Ford said. He did not say how old they were.
Interim City Manager Tom Phelps told the Eastern New Mexico News that the person arrested was the shooter.
Some victims were received at Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis, said Kerri Dufault, spokeswoman for Albuquerque based Presbyterian Healthcare Center, which operates the Clovis hospital. She declined to release the names or conditions of the victims, or describe their injuries.
The newspaper reported that police surrounded the library building for more than an hour.
Officials at the library could not be reached to comment.
Clovis, with a population of about 40,000, is around 190 miles (306 km) east of Albuquerque. It is home to Cannon Air Force Base.
The base, about eight miles west of the town, is the location of the 27th Special Operations Wing of the Air Force. Officials at the base did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
City officials said they planned a news conference for 8 pm to release more details.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein and Keith Coffman; Editing by Andrew Hay)
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.