The violence unfolded just before 11pm Saturday at a home in the 7300 block of Enchanted Creek Drive near FM 529.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office says at least 20 people were injured, and two of those victims are dead. HCSO authorities tell us Queric Richardson, a 17-year-old student of Morton Ranch High School in Katy, died at the scene. A 16-year-old girl died after being transported to Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital. Her name has not been officially released.
Richardson's father, Laurence Guidry, is having a hard time understanding how his two sons went to the party, yet only one of them came home.
"Queric didn't deserve this. He was just a child," Guidry said. "He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Relatives told us Richardson, who would have turned 18 next week, was a good student and worked at a local Dairy Queen. His 16-year-old brother, Kenneth Guidry, was shot while trying to save him.
"He was shot 10 minutes before he even realized he was shot, trying to help his brother," their father said.
Richardson's brother was one of 18 survivors who reportedly suffered gunshot wounds. A 19th victim has a broken leg, officials said.
Injuries range in severity. As of Sunday night, one person remained in critical condition at Memorial Hermann Hospital.
A BIRTHDAY PARTY GONE WILD
According to HCSO, close to 100 people were present when the shooting happened -- most of them young adults and teens. Guests were there to celebrate the 18th birthday of Mariah Boulden, who lives in the home. Officials said Boulden's mother was there as well.
Sheriff Garcia said the problems began when party organizers took to social media to promote the event.
"Anytime you promote a birthday party on social media, you have no control over who to expect at your door," Garcia said. "What it does is indicate, that your saying to the social media world, 'I don't know who you are, but you're invited.' That's not a good practice."
Authorities said there was no provocation and no evidence of a confrontation. The initial shot was reportedly fired in celebration, which caused someone to react and fire randomly into the crowd.
"It is just a horrible combination of immaturity, access to a firearm and the inability to control oneself," Garcia said.
As the gunfire erupted, guests fled the home in a panicked rush to escape.
We talked to a young man who was at the party, who asked us not to show his face. He described moments of sheer terror as bullets went flying and people were scrambling to get away.
"I'm by, like, the garage and the door with the other people. And I'm telling and pushing everybody like, 'Move to the garage,'" he told us. "Because I looked, and I could see him coming toward the door."
The garage door is now bowed out. That's where deputies say people were pushing, trying frantically to get out of the house.
The anonymous witness said the shooting went on for three to five minutes. When it ended, he walked by two young people who had been shot, trying to get to safety.
"I saw one guy. He was lying on the floor with blood leaking out of his mouth and off his body and stuff," the witness said. "And I saw another girl on the floor, and she looked like she was in shock, but she was also bleeding."
The birthday girl said she was outside when the commotion began.
"I was standing right there and all I heard was shooting," Boulden said. "So I ran toward the house, but the door was locked. So my cousin grabbed me and we ran down the street and called 911."
HCSO officials said investigators arrived within five minutes of receiving the call, and the sense of chaos remained.
"Victims lying everywhere, people running," HCSO Dep. Thomas Gilliland described. "Deputies were arriving, trying to figure out what happened, whether we had shooters on the ground, whether we had anyone with weapons still in the home."
A SCHOOL DISTRICT RESPONDS
Authorities said most of the guests at the party were high school students from the Cypress area.
Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District officials tell us they plan to address the shooting Monday.
The district issued the following statement on Sunday:
"We are saddened to learn of the tragic shooting that occurred in a neighborhood close to one of our schools last night. We have very limited information available at this time as the Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) is still conducting its investigation. The Cypress-Fairbanks Police Department (CFPD) and district administrators are working closely with HCSO to obtain accurate information and to determine if any of our students were involved. District administration and CFPD are in the process of developing a plan of action for the next few days. Tomorrow, the district crisis management team, counselors and additional security will be on identified campuses to assist staff and students. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families that have been impacted by this tragedy."
THE INVESTIGATION CONTINUES
Sheriff Garcia said alcohol and drugs do not appear to have been a factor in the shootings, but the suspects may be gang-affiliated. No firearms have been recovered from the scene.
Boulden said she never expected this to happen at her birthday party.
"My brother and them were patting people down. [The suspects] didn't want to get patted down and they walked off. And then I guess they came back and went through the gate," Boulden said. "They weren't supposed to be here, whoever they were."
There is an active search underway for two unidentified suspects -- ages 17 and 22. Anyone with information is asked to call HCSO Homicide at 713-967-5810 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
Please stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for updates as we continue following this developing story. We will also post any new information on our mobile news app.
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