US bystander kills gunman while targeting party

An American woman shot a man upon noticing him targeting a crowd of people with a semi-automatic rifle in Charleston, West Virginia.

Dennis Butler, a 37-year-old man with an extensive criminal history, was fired at by a group of around 40 people attending a birthday party, reports the BBC.

The woman’s quick reaction saved lives and may have prevented a mass shooting, police spokesman Tony Hazelett said.

It comes amid a national firearms debate following a school shooting in Texas.

Butler had been driving through the area earlier Wednesday night when he was warned to slow down because children were playing.

He returned armed with an AR-15 type rifle and opened fire from his vehicle at the graduation birthday party outside the city apartment complex.

Mr Hazelett told a press conference that the woman who fought back had no law enforcement experience. She has not been identified.

“He’s just a member of the community who was legally carrying his gun,” he said. “And instead of running from the threat, she indulged in the threat and saved several lives.”

The woman remained at the scene after the shooting and is cooperating with investigators.

No charges will be brought against her, police added.

Butler was found dead at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds, police said.

Mr Hazelett said it was not yet clear how Butler got the gun – which he was not legally allowed to carry as a convicted felon.

The shooting comes after an armed teenager killed 21 people at a Texas elementary school with a legally purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

The attack, the worst shooting at a US school in a decade, has reignited the debate over private gun ownership, which is enshrined in the US Constitution.