National Zoo Temporarily Locked Down After Shooting

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(Credit: AP)

(Credit: AP)

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Chaos at a national landmark when shots were fired at the gates of the National Zoo. The violence interrupted a popular family festival at the zoo and the gunman is still on the loose.

Christie Ileto spoke with a Baltimore family caught up in the panic.

Chaos, crowds and confusion after gunfire erupted at the National Zoo in D.C. Monday.

Police say two men were shot among a large group of 30-50 people outside the zoo gates.  One was shot in the hand, another in the arm. Their injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

“While a group of them were walking southbound on Connecticut Avenue, one of them produced a handgun and fired several rounds,” said Commander Michael Reese.

The zoo closed early, ending the family-friendly event that’s been a long-standing tradition for Washingtonians.

Police are now hunting for the gunman.

“This is our first trip down there,” said Ryan Mason.

What was supposed to be family time for Mason quickly took a left turn.

“Something happened out front. I saw police all over the entrance. Came outside; they told us to go the other way,” he said. “Saw a lot of ambulances, fire trucks, police everywhere. Helicopters.”

Mason–who just returned to Penn Station from the National Zoo–says there was already a heavy police presence prior to the incident and can’t believe anything like this would happen.

In 2000, a 16-year-old shot seven people outside the zoo entrance during the Easter Monday event. Three years ago, a 16-year-old stabbed another teen. This Monday’s violence erupted a firestorm of disbelief and disdain on Twitter as it became the third incident in 14 years.

About 16,000 visitors had been counted at the zoo by late afternoon.

Anyone with information should call D.C. Police.

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