Police search for shooter who killed at least three at Washington state Circle K store

Photograph: David Zalubowski/AP

At least three people were killed in a gun attack carried out at “random” on a convenience store in Washington state early on Tuesday, officials said, raising again the number of January mass shootings in the US.

The chief of the Yakima police department, Matt Murphy, told reporters that a gunman entered a Circle K store in the city 150 miles south-east of Seattle in the early hours and opened fire on people inside.

The shooter then fired again into a car parked outside and took off in the vehicle after the driver moved over to the passenger seat, leaving officials uncertain if there was a possible fourth fatality.

“It appears to be a random situation. There was no apparent conflict between the parties. The male just walked in and started shooting,” Murphy told a press conference, which was posted Tuesday morning to Facebook.

Murphy added that the shooter was still at large and described him as a danger to the public. Shortly after the press conference, the police identified the suspect as Jarid Haddock, 21.

“We don’t have his location at this time,” he said. “The suspect vehicle is a gray or silver sedan … and we don’t know the license plate. We don’t know who the victim is at this time.”

The murders in Yakima on Tuesday bring the number of mass shootings in the US since the start of the new year to at least 39, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The incident came less than a day after seven people were killed in a “workplace violence incident” in Half Moon Bay, California, on Monday afternoon.

The archive defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are killed or wounded, not including the attackers.

According to the police chief, officers were alerted to the shooting at about 3am on Tuesday and were on scene quickly.

“They located three deceased parties at the Circle K store, and quickly realized that there was a second shooting scene across the street,” he said.

He said the condition of the person who was inside the stolen car was unknown.

“It’s possible the victim’s not hit, it’s possible that they’re shot and alive, it’s possible they’re deceased. We just don’t know.”

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