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Three men dead, several wounded after shootout near Detroit barbershop

1:24

Three people are dead after a shootout at a Detroit barbershop with a reputation for gambling, police said.

Several others were injured amid the gunfire at Al’s Barbershop on the city’s east side, which authorities said is a hotbed of bookmaking.

“We’re not sure if this was over a bad debt. We have no idea,” Police Chief James Craig told NBC affiliate WDIV in Detroit. “We know it’s a barbershop and gambling has occurred in this location.”

Gunfire erupted Wednesday evening outside the barbershop. Nine people were hit, including two men who were inside the business and died, according to police.

A third person later died at a hospital, Sgt. Mike Woody told the Associated Press on Thursday morning, but he did not disclose additional details.

The number of people believed struck by bullets had fluctuated between nine and 10 in the wake of the shooting, but Woody told the AP it was nine after authorities determined one person was not involved in the incident.

Detroit police spokeswoman Kelly Miner said two cars pulled up outside the barbershop on Seven Mile Road around 6:15 p.m. ET before their occupants began exchanging gunfire.

"Two vehicles were involved in a shootout. Somehow, someone shot into the building, and that's when people rushed out of the building and were running into other area businesses for cover," she said.

Police investigate outside a barbershop where nine people were shot Wednesday in Detroit. Joshua Lott / Getty Images

Craig said police were seeking a black 2004 Chevrolet Impala and a white 2004 Impala with a broken window and bullet holes in the rear.

“I’m optimistic we will find these violent predators and bring them into custody" he told the Detroit News. "I can’t even imagine what would cause this type of violence."

John Zakar, 26, said he was working at the Riviera Party Shoppe when he heard about 20 shots ring out about a block away and three wounded people ran into his store and hid. 

"I locked the door behind them and applied pressure to the wounds," Zakar told Reuters.

The Detroit Free Press spoke to a distraught mother who believed one of the men killed was her 40-year-old son. She said her three sons were at the barbershop but one managed to escape and run home to tell her.

“I heard he’s dead...they won’t let me up there,” she told the newspaper from a gas station near the scene.

Daniel Arkin of NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report.