For­rest City shoot­ing a U.S. case for rap­per

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - JEAN­NIE ROBERTS ARKANSAS DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE BRAN­DON MUL­DER ARKANSAS DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE

A Mem­phis rap­per whose Lit­tle Rock con­cert broke out in gun­fire early Satur­day now faces fed­eral gun charges in con­nec­tion with the shoot­ing of a woman at an­other Arkansas club a week ago.

Fed­eral au­thor­i­ties on Mon­day filed a for­mal com­plaint of felon in pos­ses­sion of a firearm against Ricky Hamp­ton, 25, who per­forms as Fi­nese 2Tymes.

The rap­per was ar­rested Sun­day in Alabama on war­rants from Arkansas au­thor­i­ties re­gard­ing ag­gra­vated as­sault stem­ming from a shoot­ing at Club Envy in For­rest City on June 25. Hamp­ton re­mains jailed with­out bond in Birm­ing­ham, Ala.

Hamp­ton was per­form­ing at Lit­tle Rock’s Power Ul­tra Lounge early Satur­day when in­di­vid­u­als in the packed down­town club be­gan shoot­ing at one an­other, wound­ing 25, of­fi­cials have said. Three oth­ers were in­jured try­ing to flee the gun­fire.

No ar­rests in the Lit­tle Rock shoot­ings had been made as of Mon­day evening.

Also on Mon­day, Lit­tle Rock Mayor Mark Stodola said he and Gov. Asa

Hutchin­son have dis­cussed cre­at­ing a task force to ad­dress in­creased vi­o­lence in the city.

The in­ci­dent that led to Hamp­ton’s ar­rest be­gan in the early hours of June 25 as he was leav­ing Club Envy in For­rest City, ac­cord­ing to an af­fi­davit filed with the fed­eral com­plaint by the U.S. at­tor­ney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment, Hamp­ton be­gan scream­ing pro­fan­i­ties at Quay­dria Thomas be­cause her car blocked Hamp­ton’s exit. Thomas tried to back her ve­hi­cle through the parked cars but was not mov­ing quickly enough to sat­isfy Hamp­ton.

Hamp­ton pointed a ri­fle at Thomas, then fired one shot as she tried to pull away, the doc­u­ment says. The bul­let shat­tered the rear win­dow and struck Thomas in the neck. Thomas drove her­self to a For­rest City hospi­tal and was treated for the gun­shot wound, ac­cord­ing to the fed­eral af­fi­davit.

Re­peated calls to the For­rest City Po­lice De­part­ment were not re­turned as of late Mon­day.

Dur­ing Sun­day’s ar­rest, Hamp­ton told a fed­eral Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives agent that a Cen­tury Arms, model RAS-47, 7.62 mm ri­fle was in the Mercedes Benz he and a com­pan­ion were in.

The ri­fle re­cov­ered from his ve­hi­cle was the same one used in the For­est City shoot­ing of Thomas, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral au­thor­i­ties. A re­view of the gun’s se­rial num­ber de­ter­mined that it had not been man­u­fac­tured in Arkansas, open­ing the door for pos­si­ble in­ter­state com­merce charges against Hamp­ton, ac­cord­ing to the fed­eral af­fi­davit.

Hamp­ton is also fac­ing state felon in pos­ses­sion of a firearm charges. He did an eight-year stint in a Ten­nessee prison for felony ag­gra­vated rob­bery.

Satur­day morn­ing in Lit­tle Rock, a man in Hamp­ton’s en­tourage openly car­ry­ing a gun was stopped by two off-duty Lit­tle Rock po­lice of­fi­cers work­ing as se­cu­rity guards at the park­ing lot across from Power Ul­tra Lounge, 220 W. Sixth St. Po­lice say they be­lieve that the man en­tered the build­ing through an­other en­trance.

About 2:30 a.m. ri­val groups opened fire af­ter a dis­pute dur­ing the con­cert.

Lit­tle Rock po­lice de­tec­tives in­ter­viewed Hamp­ton in Birm­ing­ham. They have not named him as a sus­pect but pre­vi­ously said he is a “per­son of in­ter­est.”

“This is an open crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and there will be no in­for­ma­tion re­leased re­gard­ing the in­ter­view,” a Lit­tle Rock po­lice spokesman, of­fi­cer Steve Moore, said in a news re­lease.

The Lit­tle Rock Po­lice De­part­ment’s ma­jor crimes unit con­tin­ues to in­ves­ti­gate the shoot­ing, con­duct­ing in­ter­views and pro­cess­ing nu­mer­ous pieces of ev­i­dence re­cov­ered from the scene, Moore said.

“The Lit­tle Rock Po­lice De­part­ment is mak­ing progress in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Moore said. “At this time there is no sus­pect in­for­ma­tion to re­lease. We will con­tinue to pro­vide up­dates as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion pro­gresses.”

Po­lice are ask­ing for any­one with in­for­ma­tion about the shoot­ing or any­one with video from in­side or out­side the busi­ness to con­tact the Po­lice De­part­ment.

Stodola said Mon­day that he and Hutchin­son are cre­at­ing a task force to ad­dress grow­ing vi­o­lence in the cap­i­tal city. Ac­cord­ing to pre­lim­i­nary data, there have been nearly 1,400 cases of vi­o­lent crime — homi­cide, rob­bery, rape and ag­gra­vated as­sault — in Lit­tle Rock since Jan. 1, a 24 per­cent in­crease over 2016. There have been 29 mur­ders so far this year.

“I called the gover­nor on Satur­day, and in the course of our di­a­logue, he vol­un­teered ad­di­tional re­sources, and we spoke about cre­at­ing a task force,” Stodola said. “We’re get­ting a group to­gether in the very near fu­ture to dis­cuss how we can take care of the fact that we’ve got too many guns in the hands of the wrong peo­ple.”

Hutchin­son spokesman J.R. Davis said the gover­nor is go­ing to have sev­eral meet­ings on Wed­nes­day “with law en­force­ment as well as oth­ers, in­clud­ing leg­is­la­tors, to dis­cuss what hap­pened this week­end.”

“There will be more in­for­ma­tion on Thurs­day,” Davis added.

In his col­umn “Mon­day Morn­ings with the Mayor,” Stodola said he is work­ing with the prose­cut­ing at­tor­ney to have the U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice adopt more “felon in pos­ses­sion” cases, lead­ing to stiffer fed­eral penal­ties.

One item on the pro­posed task force’s agenda will be adding ad­di­tional re­sources to the pa­role and pro­ba­tion func­tions of the state Arkansas Com­mu­nity Cor­rec­tion agency, Stodola said.

“We’ve got dou­ble the caseload of any­one else,” he said, speak­ing of pa­role of­fi­cers

in the state. “Part of the plan is to as­sess that and to see ad­di­tional re­sources ded­i­cated to it.”

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Les­lie Rut­ledge said it is im­per­a­tive that gov­ern­ment lead­ers, law en­force­ment and lo­cal res­i­dents work col­lab­o­ra­tively to end vi­o­lence and re­store “a cul­ture of ci­vil­ity among those who dis­agree.”

“By en­forc­ing the laws on the books and shar­ing in­for­ma­tion, we can stop these crim­i­nal acts be­fore any­one is in­jured,” Rut­ledge said. “Ad­di­tional re­stric­tions on law-abid­ing Arkansans will not end the vi­o­lence per­pet­u­ated by the crim­i­nals who break the law with­out con­sid­er­a­tion for the value of hu­man life.”

Record­ings re­leased by po­lice on Mon­day in­di­cate that sev­eral peo­ple had placed 911 calls af­ter shots be­gan ring­ing out.

“We need mul­ti­ple, mul­ti­ple po­lice out here,” one woman told a 911 dis­patcher, who also said she was part of the club’s se­cu­rity team.

“They are still shoot­ing. The po­lice are here, and they are still f*****g shoot­ing,” she said min­utes later as sirens can be heard in the back­ground ar­riv­ing on the scene.

Of­fi­cers ar­rived at the club three min­utes af­ter they re­ceived the first calls, one Lit­tle Rock Po­lice of­fi­cial said on Mon­day. And as they be­gan en­ter­ing the two-story build­ing, of­fi­cers be­gan ex­e­cut­ing a triage sys­tem for which they had been re­cently trained.

Two years ago, Lit­tle Rock po­lice re­ceived Ad­vance Law En­force­ment Re­sponse Train­ing, in which they eval­u­ate the in­jured on the ba­sis of their levels of sever­ity. For vic­tims fac­ing high­est risk, of­fi­cers are equipped with tourni­quets, chest seals and wound packs.

Satur­day morn­ing was the first time po­lice had used the train­ing dur­ing such a com­plex, chaotic and large-scale sce­nario.

Five of the 28 vic­tims that night were clas­si­fied as fac­ing po­ten­tially life-threat­en­ing in­juries. Af­ter se­cur­ing the club and de­ter­min­ing that the shoot­ers had likely fled the area, po­lice of­fi­cers be­gan em­ploy­ing their new train­ing by us­ing tourni­quets on those five vic­tims.

“One of the things we felt like made us suc­cess­ful last Satur­day morn­ing was that the of­fi­cers’ triaged very quickly,” Lit­tle Rock Of­fi­cer Henry Moore said dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Mon­day.

“And that’s a force mul­ti­plier — that’s an­other set of hands trained at the scene that we didn’t have in the past,” said MEMS Direc­tor of Oper­a­tions Greg Thomp­son.

All told, MEMS am­bu­lances took 10 peo­ple to hos­pi­tals, Thomp­son said. A ma­jor­ity of the vic­tims had “self-evac­u­ated,” mean­ing they had driven them­selves to hos­pi­tals.

Emer­gency med­i­cal teams had med­i­cally cleared the scene in 31 min­utes, mean­ing all vic­tims had been loaded into am­bu­lances 31 min­utes af­ter ar­rival. By com­par­i­son, Thomp­son noted that the av­er­age time for a sin­gle crit­i­cal pa­tient is 1o to 15 min­utes.

“Peo­ple around the coun­try are go­ing to look at what we did, and there will be things that we’ll learn from this that we can do bet­ter next time,” Thomp­son said. “I think that’s the goal for ev­ery first re­spon­der across the coun­try now.”

Lo­cal hos­pi­tals said Mon­day that all but a few of the vic­tims have been re­leased. Those that re­main are in sta­ble con­di­tion.

FBI agents in Lit­tle Rock, who are as­sist­ing with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, did not re­turn phone calls or emails on Mon­day.

The Arkansas State Po­lice said through a spokesman that the agency had not been asked to as­sist in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Ac­cord­ing to state statute, state po­lice must re­ceive a re­quest from a judge, prose­cu­tor or chief law en­force­ment of­fi­cer in or­der to lend aid. Spokesman Bill Sadler said Lit­tle Rock Po­lice Chief Ken­ton Buck­ner had only re­quested troop­ers in­crease pa­trol along In­ter­state 630 and In­ter­state 30 near the down­town area.

Of­fi­cials with Arkansas Al­co­holic Bev­er­age Con­trol’s en­force­ment di­vi­sion said they will be­gin their own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into past vi­o­la­tions at the Power Ul­tra Lounge and pos­si­ble wrong­do­ing by club own­ers at a later date, so as not to in­ter­fere with the po­lice probe.

The Power Ul­tra Lounge had on seven dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions since 2012 been cited for 14 dif­fer­ent vi­o­la­tions, ac­cord­ing to Boyce Ham­let, direc­tor of the Al­co­holic Bev­er­age Con­trol’s en­force­ment di­vi­sion. Those vi­o­la­tions ranged from mi­nor vi­o­la­tions, such as fail­ing to no­tify the agency of a busi­ness name change, to more se­ri­ous ones, such as sell­ing al­co­hol to a mi­nor and buy­ing al­co­hol from an­other es­tab­lish­ment.

Stodola said he re­ceived an email from an at­tor­ney for club owner Her­man Lewis say­ing that he will not fight any ef­forts from the city or from Al­co­holic Bev­er­age Con­trol to close the club. Lewis could not be reached for com­ment.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/JOHN SYKES JR.

Cu­ri­ous passers-by check out the scene Mon­day out­side Power Ul­tra Lounge, where 25 peo­ple were in­jured early Satur­day.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/BEN­JAMIN KRAIN

Lit­tle Rock po­lice of­fi­cer Henry Moore (right) demon­strates how to use the tourni­quet packed in the small med­i­cal kits that po­lice, fire­fight­ers and Metropoli­tan Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices of­fi­cers have on hand to treat the in­jured. Lit­tle Rock fire­fighter Jeff Fr­yar (left) and MEMS Oper­a­tions Direc­tor Greg Thomp­son joined Moore at a news con­fer­ence Mon­day to de­tail how first re­spon­ders used the kits and in­for­ma­tion from a re­cent in­ter­a­gency train­ing to save lives Satur­day af­ter the shoot­ing at a down­town Lit­tle Rock night­club.

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