Two teens were shot near the National Zoo in Washington D.C. Saturday night after an earlier report of shots fired during a holiday festival sparked panic but turned out to be fireworks, authorities say.
The shooting happened about 9 p.m., police said. The first victim was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds at Connecticut Avenue and Cathedral Avenue in Woodley Park, a block south of the zoo’s entrance, according to WTOP. A second teen victim was found near Calvert and Biltmore streets east of Duke Ellington Bridge leading to Adams Morgan, police said.
The teen boys were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. No arrests have been made, police said. Officers were already in the area dispersing a large crowd of teens when the shots were fired, according to police.
The shooting came after DC Metropolitan Police said that initial reports of gunshots at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo were incorrect and that they believe the sounds were just fireworks going off in the area, according to Fox 5 DC.
FOX 5 DC Reporter Anne Cutler confirmed that police were investigating reports of fireworks and not gunshots. People attending the National Zoo at the time told Cutler that there was widespread panic as people tried to escape.
FOX 5 DC Reporter Ike Ejiochi said the zoo was evacuated and was closed due to the incident.
Police have not indicated if the fireworks were set off within or outside of the National Zoo, according to FOX 5 DC.
Reports of shots fired were made as the zoo was celebrating their annual ZooLights event, a free event with live music performances, virtual reality displays, rides, food and a holiday market surrounded by displays of animal-shaped lanterns and more crafted with 500,000 LED lights, according to the official website. At the time, FOX 5 DC heard reports that people were being turned away at the entrance by police.
The National Zoo has seen a few shootings since at least 2000, when a 16-year-old was charged with shooting and wounding seven other youths outside the gates of the zoo, according to The New York Times. A 14-year-old gang member shot and injured two members of a rival gang near the entrance to the zoo on April 21, 2014, during the Easter Monday celebration, according to The Washington Post. WTOP reported that after months of study, the zoo announced in March 2015 that they would roll out plans for increased security at the zoo with extra precautions including bag checks, security screenings and a limit on how many people can be in the zoo at a time.
The Smithsonian National Zoo was founded in 1889 and houses 2,700 animals of 390 different species across 163 acres of Washington D.C.’s Rock Creek Park, according to the official website. The zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institution.