25 peo­ple shot at Ark. night­club in al­leged gang ri­valry

Po­lice are try­ing to lo­cate sus­pected shoot­ers and one Mem­phis rap­per

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY AVI SELK avi.selk@wash­post.com

Po­lice say 25 peo­ple were shot when a sus­pected gang ri­valry erupted in­side a packed club in Lit­tle Rock early Satur­day.

Sev­eral oth­ers were in­jured at­tempt­ing to es­cape, with re­ports that some jumped from sec­ond­story win­dows at the Power Ul­tra Lounge. Two peo­ple were still in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

“When you force th­ese two com­mu­ni­ties into a small room and some kind of dis­pute en­sues, it was a recipe for dis­as­ter,” Po­lice Chief Kenton Buck­ner told re­porters at a Satur­day af­ter­noon news con­fer­ence.

Mayor Mark Stodola told re­porters the Power Ul­tra Lounge would be shut down for un­spe­cific vi­o­la­tions, and “we’re go­ing to be ex­tra vig­i­lant with the peo­ple walk­ing the streets with guns.”

The po­lice depart­ment was try­ing to find mul­ti­ple sus­pected shoot­ers — as well as rap­per Ricky Hamp­ton of Mem­phis, who po­lice said has ar­rest war­rants for vi­o­lence re­lated to his shows in other cities.

Hamp­ton, who goes by the stage name Fi­nese 2Tymes, was per­form­ing in Mem­phis in April when a shoot­ing erupted there, ac­cord­ing to WMC Ac­tion News 5 — al­though no in­juries were re­ported that time.

Buck­ner said Satur­day’s dis­pute could have been re­lated to about a dozen drive-by shoot­ings that took place in Lit­tle Rock the pre­vi­ous week. He also told re­porters he was aware of a long­stand­ing feud be­tween groups in Lit­tle Rock and Mem­phis.

Two off-duty po­lice of­fi­cers were work­ing the park­ing lot at the club, Buck­ner said. Shortly be­fore they went home around 2 a.m., the chief said, the of­fi­cers re­fused en­try to a group of peo­ple, one of whom was openly car­ry­ing a gun.

Some­how, the chief said, those peo­ple found an­other way in. About half an hour later, he said “some sort of dis­pute en­sued in the au­di­ence.”

The youngest vic­tim was a 16year-old male, ac­cord­ing to po­lice. His fam­ily told a Fox 16 re­porter he may never walk again.

In to­tal, 28 peo­ple were in­jured, in­clud­ing three hurt in the chaotic es­cape.

The po­lice said that in ad­di­tion to look­ing for sus­pects and a mo­tive, his depart­ment was pre­par­ing for the pos­si­bil­ity of gang re­tal­i­a­tions.

A re­porter asked the po­lice chief about a re­cent state law al­low­ing con­cealed hand­guns into cer­tain bars and many other places.

“All our elected of­fi­cials need to take a look,” Buck­ner said. “Ob­vi­ously this would be un­in­tended con­se­quences.”

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchin­son (R), who signed that law in March, wrote af­ter the shoot­ing: “Lit­tle Rock’s crime prob­lem ap­pears to be in­ten­si­fy­ing . . . . Ev­ery few days a high profile shoot­ing dom­i­nates the news, cul­mi­nat­ing with this morn­ing’s event.”

ANDREW DEMILLO/ASSOCIATED PRESS

An in­ves­ti­ga­tor col­lects ev­i­dence near Power Ul­tra Lounge in Lit­tle Rock where 25 peo­ple were shot Satur­day. Po­lice say this shoot­ing could be re­lated to shoot­ings that took place in Lit­tle Rock last week.

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