Authorities were searching yesterday for a Grasonville man who allegedly fired a handgun at a crowded party in Chestertown early yesterday, wounding five men -- one critically.
Police said the shooting resulted from a feud among rival groups from Chestertown and Grasonville.
Chestertown Police Chief Wayne M. Bradley said the victims, all in their 20s, were among some 200 people at a dance at the Wilmer Park recreation area on the outskirts of town shortly before 1 a.m. when the shooting erupted.
A group of men from Grasonville had been arguing earlier with a group from Chestertown, and one of them fired at least seven shots into a group of dancers with what police believe was a small-caliber pistol, Chief Bradley said.
The chief said investigators believe they have identified the gunman as a Grasonville resident and are searching for him. Charges also may be lodged against two companions, police said.
The injured were identified as Scott Whye, 23, and Christopher Shorter, 24, both of nearby Worton; Terrance Murray and Sheldon Murray, of the Chestertown area; and Markel Pinkett of Grasonville. Ages for the last three were unknown.
Sheldon Murray, shot twice in the chest and once in a finger, was flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was listed in critical but stable condition yesterday.
Mr. Whye, who was shot in the right shoulder, and Mr. Shorter, who was wounded in the stomach, were taken to Kent & Queen Anne's Hospital and were listed in stable condition. Mr. Pinkett was released after treatment at Memorial Hospital at Easton for his injured right arm.
Terrance Murray refused treatment, although his nose and arm were grazed, Chief Bradley said.
According to Chief Bradley, investigators believe "the guy just opened fire into the crowd, because he shot one of his own people."
When the police arrived, they found partygoers fighting, screaming and running in all directions.
Chief Bradley said there has been a long-running rivalry between Grasonville and Chestertown youths, and apparently, in this case, it continued into adulthood.
"It used to be when you went to school, one school might not like another school, and you'd get into a fight. But nowadays they shoot each other," Chief Bradley said, describing the men as "everyday guys that just can't get along with each other.
"We did get word that a lot of these guys carry guns, but we never thought they'd come up here and start shooting at each other," he said.