28 injured after gunfire erupts at Little Rock nightclub
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 quickly said was not related to terrorism.
All of the victims were expected to survive the shooting at the Power Ultra Lounge, about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the state Capitol building. Police believe the gunfire erupted amid a dispute among clubgoers and that multiple people fired shots. Twenty-five people suffered gunshot wounds, and three others had unrelated injuries.
“I just closed my eyes, got down on the ground and put my hands on my head,” Courtney Swanigan, 23, told The Associated Press.
The shooting capped a violent week in Arkansas’ largest city. Police had responded to a dozen drive-by shootings over the previous nine days but haven’t said whether any of the incidents are related.
“Little Rock’s crime problem appears to be intensifying,” Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement. “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 (Mark) 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 club 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.”
Police were summoned about 2:30 a.m. City police said quickly that the agency did not believe the shooting was part of a terrorist attack and that no active shooter remained at the scene.
“Some sort of dispute broke out between people inside,” Police Chief Kenton Buckner told reporters.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola said more information would be released at a news conference Saturday afternoon.
The club’s Facebook page promoted Friday night’s show with a poster depicting a man pointing what appears to be a gun at the camera. Calls to a number listed for Finese 2Tymes’ booking agent wasn’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 1 MOTIVE AT THE END OF THE DAY, AND THATS TO HAVE FUN.”
Police cordoned off the area as technicians collected evidence from the scene, which is near a Roman Catholic cathedral and a First United Methodist Church center. A number of worshippers gathered for a funeral at St. Andrew’s while police continued their work.
Glass from the Power Ultra Lounge’s second story windows littered the ground, along with empty drink cups. In the parking lot, a silver Toyota had what appeared to be a streak of blood on the front passenger-side door.
“I’m sick of all the killing and I’m tired of all the shooting. The kids getting hurt,” said Raida Bunche, who was waiting outside the club after hearing from a friend that her son had been inside. She found out later that he had run from the club when the shooting started and was not hurt.
Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control officials suspended the club’s alcohol license and set a hearing for July 10 on three potential charges: disorderly conduct, allowing possession of weapons on the premises and “failure to be a good neighbor.”
The club’s license has been suspended 11 times for failing to pay taxes, and it has been cited seven times for 14 various violations including unknowingly furnishing alcohol to minors and allowing alcohol to leave the premises since 2012, ABC Director of Enforcement Boyce Hamlet said.
In May, one person was killed and six people were hurt in a mass shooting at a downtown concert in Jonesboro, Arkansas, about 115 miles (185 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock. In that case, two men were charged with first-degree murder and six counts of first-degree battery.
Arkansas lawmakers earlier this year approved a measure expanding where concealed handguns can be carried, including bars if allowed by owners, for licensees who undergo additional training. The law takes effect in September, but the training likely won’t be available until early next year.