An 18-year-old gunman armed with an arsenal of automatic weapons killed three people and injured six others while firing randomly at cars and houses in the New Mexico city of Farmington on Monday, authorities said.
The suspect was killed by police after wounding two officers, Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said in a video released on Monday night.
The identities of the suspect and victims were not immediately released.
Mr Hebbe said the gunman was armed with an AR-15 style rifle and two other firearms as he roamed across a quarter mile area of the city just before 11am targeting “whatever entered his head to shoot at.”
At least six houses and three cars were shot at, while state and local police responding to 911 calls also came under heavy gunfire.
Mr Hebbe called the shootings “one of the most horrific and difficult days that Farmington has ever had as a community”.
Police have not revealed a possible motive or intended target of the attack.
“At this point, it appears to be purely random, that there was no schools, no churches and no individuals targeted,” the police chief said.
Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett said in a statement that the shooting “has left us reeling in anguish and disbelief.”
He praised the response of law enforcement, which he said had saved “countless lives”.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Graham said in a statement she was “deeply upset by the tragic violence that unfolded today in Farmington”.
Mr Hebbe said police received the first 911 calls at about 10.57am. Officers arrived at the scene at 11.02am, and three minutes later, the gunman had been killed.
A Farmington Police Department officer who was wounded in the shooting has since been released from hospital. A second New Mexico State Police officer who was able to drive himself to hospital remains in a stable condition, Mr Hebbe said.
Police initially believed there may have been a second shooter and imposed active shooter protocols in the city’s public schools, Mr Hebbe said.
Mayor Duckett, law enforcement officers and dozens of residents gathered for a vigil at Hills Church, a few miles from the scene of the attack, on Monday night.
Local and state law enforcement agencies are investigating the shooting, and are expected to provide an update on Tuesday afternoon.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said in a Twitter post that agents from Phoenix were headed to Farmington to assist in the investigation.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 225 mass shootings in the United States in 2023.
In New Mexico, gun owners do not require a permit to purchase a rifle or handgun, and there are no restrictions on assault weapons or magazine capacities.
Governor Lujan Graham is pushing for a ban on assault weapons, and welcomed the passage of a bill that would ban their sale through a committee in February.