Little Rock closes down nightclub where gunfire left 28 people injured

Little Rock authorities on Saturday shut down a nightclub where an apparent dispute between two rival gangs led to an early morning shootout that left 28 people injured, all but three of them by gunfire.

All of those who were injured — ranging in age from 16 to 40 — were expected to survive, according to authorities.

The shooting, which took place at Power Ultra Lounge around 2:30 a.m. local time, does not appear to be terror-related and did not represent a threat to the general public, Little Rock police chief Kenton Buckner said.

He said no suspects were in custody.

Mayor Mark Stodola said the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control officials suspended the club’s alcohol license and that the city had placed it on its criminal abatement list.

"We will be shutting this property down," he said.

The shooting, that last 11 seconds and set patrons screaming and running for the exits, capped a violent week in Arkansas’ largest city. Authorities said the nightclub shooting may be connected to a dozen drive-by shootings over the previous nine days.

Stodola said a key problem involved individuals with criminal records who were illegally carrying guns on the street and in the club. He said local authorities would work with state and federal authorities to crack down on felons who are not permitted to carry weapons.

Glass and empty drink cups littered the ground outside the two-story building as police cornered off the block, the Associated Press reported.

“I just closed my eyes, got down on the ground and put my hands on my head,” Courtney Swanigan, who was near the front of the club, told the Associated Press.

Buckner said it was too early to provide details about the incident and that it could be multiple suspects. He said at least 20 to 40 shots rang out during the uproar.

"Certainly during incidents such as this, emotions are very high. We need to be very careful with our words," Buckner said. "This is a blip on the map that we certainly didn't need, considering the history that we've had over the past week."

He said the gunplay involved two distinct groups and not a general outbreak of gunfire.

"Most of the people in there had nothing to do with the conflict, they were just victims of stupidity," he said.

The Memphis, Tennessee-based rapper Finese 2Tymes was the headliner for the concert.

A posting in all capital letters on Finese 2Tymes’ Facebook page expressed thoughts and prayers for those injured and said: “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.”

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson called the shooting a "senseless violent tragedy" and offered state resources to Little Rock to address violent crime.

"Little Rock's crime problem appears to be intensifying. Every few days it seems a high profile shooting dominates the news, culminating with this morning's event," Hutchinson said.

About a dozen drive-by shootings have occurred in Little Rock over the past week, though there is no indication the events are linked, the Associated Press reported.

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola thanked first responders and area hospitals in a Facebook post Saturday.

"My heart is broken this morning — my prayers are with the victims of this tragedy," he wrote. "We are committed to doing everything possible to bring safety to our city. We need everyone to help."

The shooting occurred during a concert featuring Finese 2Tymes, a Memphis rapper. A Facebook post promoting the event from Power Ultra Lounge shows a photo of a man pointing a gun at the camera.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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