HOUSTON — It was supposed to be a Juneteenth celebration, but it ended with gunshots, screams and three bodies covered in sheets.
Two men and a woman were killed, and a local rapper was injured Wednesday morning when someone opened fire during a fight near a strip club.
It happened just after 3 a.m., outside Diamonds Gentlemen’s Club (formerly Scores Cabaret) and Club Blue, on Westpark Drive in southwest Houston.
The crowd had gathered there for a performance by Trae Tha Truth, a local rapper. The event was part of an after-party promotion for Trae’s newest release, and for a video he shot Tuesday afternoon.
"We was getting ready to walk inside ‘cause he was playing, and all I heard was all shots," said one bystander.
Police said a total of five people – three men and two women – were shot. The two surviving victims—including Trae Tha Truth—were taken to the hospital.
"Everybody Trae is ok. Minor gunshot wound," a friend tweeted, along with a photo of the rapper in the hospital.
Trae was treated at a local hospital and released. The bullet is still in his shoulder and he started physical therapy Wednesday afternoon.
His business manager said Trae feels "fortunate" and "is praying."
One of the rapper's childhood friends called the shooting "alarming."
Female rapper Troublesum says Trae is a generous person and a pioneer in Houston rap music.
She says Trae holds free concerts to benefit women and children.
Troublesum says Trae was not a target but was only was caught in the crossfire.
Another woman who said she works with Trae told KHOU 11 News the rapper was devastated by the violence.
"He’s completely heartbroken. We lost a member of our family," she said.
The shooting happened after a fight erupted outside of the club. At some point during the altercation, police said a gunman or gunmen started shooting. Over a dozen shots were fired.
One woman who was inside the club at the time of the shooting said she couldn’t believe what had happened.
Another woman at the scene said she came to support the female victim who was killed.
"My friend got shot today at a strip club. I‘m coming to support a fellow friend or whatever. She was an innocent bystander," said Jenneka Churchwell. "I mean, I don’t know what to say – speechless. I’m just speechless."
Friends say the victim had three children, including a daughter who turned 2 years old on Wednesday.
The young woman named Erika had stayed at the concert to get Trae’s autograph.
The other victims’ identities were not released.
Investigators said there was another fight at the club on Sunday, and they were working to determine if the two incidents were connected.
"It’s believed that the incident that stemmed out here was a domestic dispute that occurred on Sunday, or another incident that happened back in November," HPD spokesperson Victor Senties said.
Detectives were still at the scene hours after the shooting, but they were having a hard time getting any of the hundreds of witnesses to speak up.
This wasn’t the first time that a Trae Tha Truth event ended in violence.
In July of 2009, six people were shot at a concert at TSU.
Police said the suspects from Wednesday's shooting were still at large Wednesday afternoon, but they were asking for the public’s help. With such a large crowd, investigators believe someone saw something.
Anyone with information is urged to contact HPD or call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477.