At least three people were killed and several others, including two police officers, were wounded on Monday in a northwestern New Mexico community before law enforcement shot and killed the suspect, authorities said.
The shootings occurred at around 11 am in Farmington, a city of about 50,000 people that serves as a modern-day trading post to the adjacent Navajo Nation reservation and is a supply line and bedroom community to the region's oil and natural gas industry.
The city's police department said in a Facebook post that at least three members of the public were killed and that officers confronted and killed a suspect at the scene. It also said two officers, including one of its own and a State Police officer, were wounded and were in stable condition at the San Juan Regional Medical Centre.
"The suspect's identity is unknown and there are no other known threats at this time," police said, adding that city, San Juan County and State Police were involved.
Police did not release the names of those who were killed or wounded or give details about what led to the shootings.
After the shootings were reported, the city's schools were placed on what officials called "preventative lockdown".
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Middle school teacher Nick Akins, whose home is on a street near the crime scene that police locked down, described the neighbourhood as a mostly great place to live, with a mix of homes, short-term rental apartments and churches.
"It is not like the roughest area in town, but it can be," he said. "We have great neighbours and rentals, people who come and go. We do not always know everyone."
Seeing Farmington in the national spotlight for yet another mass shooting, particularly one that occurred on his street, was surreal for him.
"You never think it is going to happen here and all of a sudden, in a tiny little town it comes here," Akins said.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement that she was praying for the families of the victims and that the incident "serves as yet another reminder of how gun violence destroys lives in our state and our country every single day". The governor, a Democrat, did not describe any other circumstances of the deadly confrontation.
Megan Mitchell, who works for the San Juan County sheriff's office, said there was an open investigation into the shootings and that she did not have further information.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tweeted that agents from Phoenix were headed to Farmington to assist in the investigation.
Farmington is not far from where New Mexico borders Colorado, Utah and Arizona. In recent years, cafes and breweries have cropped up downtown alongside decades-old businesses that trade in Native American crafts from silver jewellery to wool weavings. Travelling Broadway shows make regular stops at the expansive community centre auditorium, while rural lots on the outskirts are littered with disassembled oilfield equipment.
Last month, Farmington police shot and killed a man at his front door after they went to the wrong address while responding to a domestic violence call.
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