Po­lice make no ar­rests in shoot­ing

Sus­pects lack­ing in night­club at­tack

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - AMANDA CLAIRE CURCIO AND JIL­LIAN KREMER

Four days af­ter a shoot­ing in a down­town Lit­tle Rock night­club left 28 peo­ple in­jured, five of the vic­tims re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized Tues­day, and po­lice had yet to make any ar­rests in the case.

Of the five still hos­pi­tal­ized, one was listed in crit­i­cal con­di­tion Tues­day, po­lice said.

All five are ex­pected to sur­vive, Lit­tle Rock po­lice said on Twit­ter.

As of Tues­day evening, po­lice were with­out sus­pects and had yet to ar­rest any­one in the shoot­ing that oc­curred early Satur­day at the Power Ul­tra Lounge, at 220 W. Sixth St., Chief Ken­ton Buck­ner said. In­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve that mul­ti­ple gun­men opened fire in the crowd, he said.

About 2:30 a.m. Satur­day, gun­fire broke out dur­ing a rap mu­sic per­for­mance by Ricky Hamp­ton, who per­forms un­der the name Fi­nese 2Tymes. Po­lice said ri­val groups opened fire in the packed club, wound­ing 25 peo­ple, and three other peo­ple were in­jured as they tried to flee the gun­fire.

The shoot­ing comes at a time when vi­o­lent crime in the cap­i­tal city is up from the pre­vi­ous year but still well be­low the num­bers in the 1990s, the height of gang vi­o­lence, data show. Early data show 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.

Buck­ner de­scribed the Power Ul­tra Lounge shoot­ing as an “anom­aly” — a “spe­cial storm cre­ated through a num­ber of dif­fer­ent rea­sons that ex­ploded.”

Po­lice have said Hamp­ton is a “per­son of in­ter­est” in the shoot­ing but not a sus­pect.

Lit­tle Rock po­lice have in­ter­viewed Hamp­ton, who is jailed with­out bail in Birm­ing­ham, Ala. He was ar­rested Sun­day on war­rants is­sued by Arkansas au­thor­i­ties in an un­re­lated shoot­ing in For­rest City.

In that case, Hamp­ton got into a dis­pute with a woman as he was leav­ing Club Envy in the early hours of June 25, ac­cord­ing to a fed­eral crim­i­nal com­plaint filed Mon­day. He pointed a ri­fle at the woman and fired one shot into her ve­hi­cle as she was driv­ing away, the com­plaint states. The bul­let struck her in the neck, au­thor­i­ties said.

Hamp­ton, 25, is fac­ing a fed­eral crim­i­nal com­plaint of felon

in pos­ses­sion of a firearm in that case. He is also fac­ing state charges of the same na­ture.

Buck­ner said Hamp­ton’s ar­rest is a sign of “progress” in the night­club shoot­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion and of the depart­ment’s “strong, pre-ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ships with fed­eral part­ners.”

Lit­tle Rock res­i­dents should feel con­fi­dent that tack­ling vi­o­lent crime is a Po­lice Depart­ment pri­or­ity, he said.

In 2015, the Lit­tle Rock Po­lice Depart­ment joined the Vi­o­lence Re­duc­tion Net­work, a U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice pro­gram that di­rects fed­eral re­sources to com­mu­ni­ties that have higher lev­els of vi­o­lent crime. That pro­gram now falls un­der the Na­tional Pub­lic Safety Part­ner­ship, which was cre­ated last month un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

“We have been work­ing on th­ese is­sues even be­fore what hap­pened in the club, and we will con­tinue to work on them,” Buck­ner said. “It just takes time for it to come to fruition.”

In Novem­ber, the depart­ment an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of the Vi­o­lence Re­duc­tion Task Force and touted its suc­cess in its early months of op­er­a­tion — with­out of­fer­ing spe­cific crime fig­ures.

On Mon­day, Lit­tle Rock Mayor Mark Stodola and Gov. Asa Hutchin­son dis­cussed cre­at­ing a task force to ad­dress in­creased crime in the city.

Other pre­ven­tion mea­sures were taken af­ter Satur­day’s shoot­ing.

Within hours of the gun­fire, a no­tice to va­cate was posted at the night­club’s en­trance, or­der­ing that the keys be re­turned to the land­lord within three days.

Bruce Moore, Lit­tle Rock’s city man­ager, said the club will be closed down through a crim­i­nal-abate­ment pro­gram, which in­volves a six-month process and gives a team of city de­part­men­tal staff mem­bers the au­thor­ity to se­cure tar­geted prop­er­ties and pros­e­cute peo­ple as­so­ci­ated with them.

Buck­ner said the Po­lice Depart­ment and city of­fi­cials will work to­gether to iden­tify gaps in how es­tab­lish­ments are li­censed com­pared with how they are ac­tu­ally be­ing op­er­ated. Power Ul­tra Lounge, for in­stance, was li­censed as a restau­rant, not as a club or per­for­mance venue.

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