Chaos and confusion shattered the peaceful calm at the site of a memorial Monday night for slain rapper and philanthropist Nipsey Hussle.
A crowd that had gathered to mourn Hussle outside his store in Los Angeles' Hyde Park area rushed to get out of the area after a man brandished a handgun, police said at a Tuesday news conference. The stampede left 19 people hospitalized.
At least one person was stabbed at the vigil, law enforcement sources told NBC News. The Los Angeles Fire Department said 19 people were taken to hospitals, with two of them in critical condition, two in serious condition and 15 considered to be non-life threatening.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
Firefighters initially said the department was responding to reports of shots fired at approximately 8:30 p.m. The Los Angeles Police Department said that reports of the shots fired were inaccurate a short time later, but law enforcement sources familiar with the matter told NBC News Tuesday that two women struck by gunfire showed up at hospitalized.
Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday he could not confirm that the two people were shot. He said panic ensued after someone in the crowd noticed another individual with a handgun, then tried to disarm him.
"We have no information that he shot anyone with it," Moore said. "Another individual there attempted to disarm him. That caused panic in the group and a cascade or stampede of people as they fled the location."
People fell and tripped as they tried to leave, Moore said.
A witness at the vigil said he heard no shots prior to the melee.
"Somebody panicked and people started to run," David Groce said. "No shots were fired, nobody was fighting, people panicked and a group of people ran."
Newschopper4 Bravo was over the scene and observed the crowd scatter multiple times, with several people visibly injured and receiving medical attention from paramedics.
"Is the area we in," said a community member present at the vigil, "until things get better, it's going to keep happening, regardless of any situation that goes down."
Police proceeded to create a skirmish line and dispersed the crowd that had gathered to pay respects to the slain rapper..
At approximately 9:45 p.m., the LAPD issued a citywide tactical alert, NBC News reported. A tactical alert provides police departments the option of re-distributing officers to respond to a major emergency.
The crowd later dispersed, leaving memorial items scattered and trampled on the ground. Volunteers cleaned up the site and replaced items overnight.
The memorial was held at the location where Hussle was shot Sunday, a clothing store in the neighborhood where the Grammy-nominated rapper was from. The 33-year-old's legal name was Ermias Asghedom.
Hussle "was a big figure in our community," the man at the vigil explained. "But unfortunately," he said, "everybody doesn't receive the message, or some people don't even like the message."
"The community is killing the community," local activist Jennifer Rivers said, "and Nipsey fought against this, you know, and now he lost his life."
Late Monday, police identified Eric Holder, 29, as a suspect in Hussle's killing. He is believed to have fled in a white 4-door Chevy Cruze.
Two other people were injured in the shooting.
NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.