Sunday 22 October 2017

Landlord of Arkansas nightclub at centre of shooting rampage orders club 'to move out within three days'

Andrew DeMillo and Tafi Mukunyadzi

The landlord that owns a nightclub in the US where 28 people were injured in a shooting has officially evicted the club.

The volley of gunfire inside the Power Ultra Lounge in Little Rock, Arkansas, early on Saturday came so fast that investigators believe multiple people had to have been involved.

Police chief Kenton Buckner credited quick work by the first emergency services on the scene for there being no fatalities.

Twenty-five people between the ages of 16 and 35 suffered gunshot wounds, and three others suffered other injuries. Two people are in a critical condition.

The entrance of an Arkansas nightclub where police are investigating a shooting
The entrance of an Arkansas nightclub where police are investigating a shooting

Police said officers do not have any suspects in custody.

Courtney Swanigan, 23, said that when gunfire rang out during a performance by rapper Finese 2Tymes: "I just closed my eyes, got down on the ground and put my hands on my head."

City officials said they would move on Monday to shut down the club under a "criminal abatement" programme. State regulators also suspended the club's alcohol licence.

On Saturday night, a representative for the landlord's office posted an eviction notice on a door to the club. The notice states the club must move out of the property within three days "due to your failure to maintain the premises in a safe condition".

Mayor Mark Stodola said the city must "keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people", and suggested people avoid clubs that seem to promote violence.

Material advertising the concert by Finese 2Tymes showed a man pointing a gun at a camera.

"A promotional video with a gun on the front cover inviting people to a concert... should also be totally unacceptable in our community," the mayor said.

It occurred around 2.30am local time about a mile east of the state Capitol building. First-responders are stationed through the central part of the city and hospitals are a short distance away.

"We had professional people responding to that incident and they did what they were trained to do, and I know they probably had something to do with the fact we didn't have any fatalities," Mr Buckner said.

About 100 people gathered at Second Baptist Church on Saturday night for a candlelight vigil, seeking healing for those injured, and the community.

The shooting capped a violent week in Arkansas' largest city. Police had responded to a dozen drive-by shootings over the previous nine days.

Republican governor Asa Hutchinson said: "Little Rock's crime problem appears to be intensifying.

"Every few days it seems a high-profile shooting dominates the news, culminating with (Saturday) morning's event. I have spoken this morning with mayor (Mark) Stodola and I have offered both my heart-felt concern over this senseless violent tragedy and state assets as needed to address the continued threat of violence in our community."

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