Forrest City shooting a U.S. case for rapper
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.
Curious passers-by check out the scene Monday outside Power Ultra Lounge, where 25 people were injured early Saturday.
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.