Gun violence in the US

Nightclub shooting that left 28 injured in Little Rock believed to be gang-related

The city’s police chief said officers suspect multiple people fired weapons but that the incident was not terror related

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 July, 2017, 10:39pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 July, 2017, 4:08pm

Club-goers screamed and scrambled for cover as dozens of gunshots rang out during a rap concert in downtown Little Rock, leaving 28 people injured from an 11-second melee that police said may be gang-related.

The volley of gunfire inside the Power Ultra Lounge came so fast that investigators believe multiple people had to have been involved.

Police Chief Kenton Buckner credited quick work by first responders for there being no fatalities.

Twenty-five people between the ages of 16 and 35 suffered gunshot wounds, and three others were hurt, perhaps while fleeing, Buckner said. Two people were in critical condition. Police said officers did not have any suspects in custody.

“I want to reassure our public that this was not an act of terrorism but a tragedy ... It does not appear to be a planned shooting,” Mayor Mark Stodola told a press conference.

Watch: Little Rock club shooting leaves more than 25 injured

A disagreement involving a small number of patrons at the club quickly escalated because of “the presence of rivalries and weapons,” Stodola said.

Authorities did not immediately release any names or information on a suspect or suspects.

However Buckner said some members with the headliner group, including one with a gun, had been stopped by police after trying to enter the nightclub. They appear to have gained access to the club later through a different entry way.

Buckner said the victims ranged in age from 16 to 35, with two in critical condition.

“We have no reason to believe at this time that anyone in the general public is at harm of any incident,” he added.

Authorities are investigating whether a long-standing rivalry between feuding gangs was to blame for the violence, and said they have closed down the club in the wake of the shootings.

“I think when you have a concert venue where you have young people and force these two cities into a small room and some kind of dispute ensues, it was a recipe for disaster,” Stodola said.

“Little Rock’s crime problem appears to be intensifying,” Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said in a statement, decrying “this senseless violent tragedy.”

He promised state resources to help “support local law enforcement efforts.”

The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the US Marshalls were working on the case, Stodola said.

The mayor thanked first responders and hospitals on Facebook.

“My heart is broken this morning – my prayers are with the victims of this tragedy,” he said.

“We must do more to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people. And government can do something to help us with that,” he said during the press conference, expressing outrage that promotional material featuring a firearm had been used to advertise the event.

According to the nightclub website, an artist by the name of Finese 2 Tymes was expected to perform.

Police had initially had said that 17 people were shot, before updating the toll later Saturday.

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press