PHOENIX — An 18th birthday party at a downtown Phoenix hotel turned chaotic as a shooting erupted downstairs and police soon swarmed the room where the party was taking place, according to a person who attended.
In the very early hours of Sunday morning, eight people were shot, and one of them killed, police said. The incident occurred at the Hyatt Regency hotel downtown. Phoenix police said those involved were connected to a party taking place at the hotel.
While police have not elaborated on details of the party, other than to say it was not sponsored by the hotel, a man who attended told ABC15 it was his friend's sister's 18th birthday celebration, taking place on the hotel's 7th floor. He told ABC15 the shooting apparently took place downstairs in or around the lobby, and they were alerted to the chaos while singing "happy birthday."
"We sang happy birthday, everything was cool," said Gabriel Ibarra. "Two guys ran in from the balcony and said, 'they started shooting!"
Ibarra, a hip hop artist, said he isn't sure who all was involved in the shooting, but believes some of them had stopped by the birthday party.
"Just to say hi real quick and that was it," Ibarra said. "I don't really know any details, I just heard they got into it, an argument with somebody down in the lobby and that's where everything just spiraled."
Phoenix police have told ABC15 there was a disagreement between two groups of people prior to the shooting. Police have not announced any arrests but said they have located everyone involved and are working through the interview process to determine who did what.
Ibarra shared cell phone video with ABC15 that shows police officers giving commands to people in how to exit the hotel room. Ibarra said detectives asked him a lot of questions.
"They asked me everything you could imagine," Ibarra said. "If I knew who they were, if I knew what they looked like, did they get into an argument, did you see anybody mad, did anybody have a gun?"
Ibarra said the party itself was calm and he didn't notice any issues prior to the violence occurring downstairs.
"It was just a simple birthday party," he said. "Nothing crazy."
Ibarra said fortunately the disagreement between the groups of people did not occur inside the room where the party was taking place, with roughly 40 or 50 people.
"It could have been way worse in the room," he said. "But it's a horrible situation either way."