Police Capt. Frank Umbrino said Saturday that three or four people fired 40 rounds around 12:30 a.m.
“We have two innocent victims here that were attending a party with a few friends and unfortunately, they lost their lives as a result because three or four individuals decided to carry handguns and pull them out,and shoot at a crowd of 100 to 200 people,” Umbrino said at a news conference.
Police said the two 19-year-olds who died, Jaquayla Young and Jarvis Alexander, are not believed to be the intended targets. The 14 others wounded by gunfire were between the ages of 17 and 23, and have non-life threatening injuries.
The tragedy hit a community already reeling from Daniel Prude's suffocation death while being restrained by police earlier this year.
“This is truly a tragedy of epic proportions,” Rochester's acting police chief Mark Simmons said in a news conference near the shooting. “I mean, 16 victims is unheard of, and for our community, who’s right now going through so much, to have to be dealt with this tragedy, needlessly, for people who decide to act in a violent manner is unfortunate and shameful.”
Prude's death happened in March, but details of how he died have recently come to light. The city has seen weeks of protests that continued Saturday.
Rochester's coronavirus guidelines "limit social gatherings to household members" and advise against gathering in groups.
Umbrino said the shooting happened after multiple parties converged at the crime scene.
Simmons, who just took over as acting police chief this week, criticized the "illegal, unsanctioned house parties" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Then you add in alcohol and violence, and it just becomes a recipe for disaster," Simmons said.
Shootings and homicides are up nationwide this year. A recent Wall Street Journal analysis found that homicides have seen a 24% average spike in America's 50 largest cities in 2020.
Murders in St. Louis and New York City have already surpassed 2019 numbers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.