A chaotic shooting scene that had curious crowds running for cover in a crime-ridden area of Louisville left three people dead and three others hospitalized Thursday.

The scene unfolded about 1 p.m. EDT when two men were killed and two wounded in a shooting that attracted dozens of onlookers anxious for answers in the Russell neighborhood dotted with boarded-up houses. As police were investigating and a host of media gathered nearby, shots rang out about four houses down.

Two women had been arguing and one shot and killed the other, police said. The startled crowds ran for safety and officers with guns drawn headed down the street toward the shots.

After a few minutes, officers had fired at the shooter and sent her to the hospital, and paramedics worked on the woman she's accused of killing, said Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad. They eventually stopped and pulled a white sheet over her body.

Emotions were running high during the second shooting, but there appears to be no connection between the slayings, Conrad said.

"We had people at the scene yelling," said Conrad, who spent his day in the neighborhood west of downtown working with officers in that precinct before the shootings. "I don't know if that played a role or not. This level of violent behavior is unacceptable."

The shootings made the day the bloodiest in Louisville since at least July 5, 2011, when four people were killed, and Oct. 6, 2008, when a mother stabbed her two children, then killed herself on the same day two other homicides took place.

The officer, who was not immediately identified, will be placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation, the chief said.

Police had not released any names of the victims from either shooting or a motive for the first shooting.

Police spokesman Dwight Mitchell said that along with the two dead men in the first shooting, a third person who had been shot made his way about eight blocks from the scene and was then transported to University of Louisville Hospital.

Tekeya Anderson identified the female victim in the second shooting as her cousin, but her identity was not immediately confirmed by police.

"I guess she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and she got shot," Anderson said. "She came down here and she got shot."


Associated Press reporter Brett Barrouquere is on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBarrouquereAP