28 INJURED AS GUNSHOTS FILL NIGHTCLUB
Police believe 11-second melee may be gang-related, connected to other incidents
Gunshots ring out during a concert in Little Rock, Ark., leaving 28 people injured from an 11-second melee that police said may be gang-related. »
LITTLE ROCK, ARK.» Clubgoers screamed and scrambled for cover as dozens of gunshots rang out during a rap concert in downtown Little Rock early Saturday, leaving 28 people injured from an 11-second melee that police said may be gang-related.
Police Chief Kenton Buckner said investigators believe multiple people fired shots and that the shooting could be connected to other violence in the city in recent days. All of the victims were expected to survive the shooting at the Power Ultra Lounge, a nightclub, and Buckner credited the work of first responders for that.
Twenty-five people age 16 to 35 suffered gunshot wounds, and three others had unrelated injuries. Two people were in critical condition Saturday afternoon, Buckner said.
Courtney Swanigan, 23, told The Associated Press that when the gunfire rang out, “I just closed my eyes, got down on the ground and put my hands on my head.”
Mayor Mark Stodola said the city would shut down the nightclub under a “criminal abatement” program. State regulators suspended the club’s liquor license earlier Saturday and Stodola said the property’s manager was delivering an eviction notice.
“We know we’ve got to use a hammer, we’ve got to use a big hammer on the people who would do violence with guns and hurt people,” the mayor said at an afternoon news conference.
He said the city must do more to “keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people” and suggested that people refuse to patronize clubs that seem to promote violence. Material advertising the concert by Tennessee rapper Finese 2Tymes showed a man pointing a gun at a camera.
“A promotional video with a gun on the front cover inviting people to a concert ... should also be totally unacceptable in our community,” Stodola said.
The shooting capped a violent week in Arkansas’ largest city. Police had responded to a dozen drive-by shootings over the previous nine days.
“This does appear to be a continuation of disputes from some of our local groups,” Buckner said. “You’ve seen some of the things playing out in our streets that has resulted in drive-by shootings.”
The shooting occurred about 2:30 a.m. at the nightclub about one mile east of the state Capitol building. Top state officials offered to help the city respond to an increasing number of incidents.
“Little Rock’s crime problem appears to be intensifying,” Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a news release. “Every few days it seems a high-profile shooting dominates the news, culminating with this morning’s event. I have spoken this morning with Mayor Stodola and I have offered both my heartfelt concern over this senseless violent tragedy and state assets as needed to address the continued threat of violence in our community.”
A Facebook video posted from inside the nightclub included audio of at least 24 rounds fired in about 11 seconds. Darryl Rankin, who posted the video, said a friend of his who attended the Finese 2Tymes concert with him had a bullet “stuck in his spine.”
Calls to a number listed for Finese 2Tymes’ booking agent weren’t returned Saturday, but a message was posted on the artist’s Facebook page offering thoughts and prayers for those injured: “THE VIOLENCE IS NOT FOR THE CLUB PEOPLE. WE ALL COME WITH ONE MOTIVE AT THE END OF THE DAY, AND THAT’S TO HAVE FUN.”
Little Rock (Ark.) Police Department detectives and crime scene personnel collect evidence at the Power Ultra Lounge nightclub Saturday.