An early-morning barrage of gunfire left 25 concert goers wounded at a Little Rock nightclub Saturday. Others were trampled as those in the crowded venue attempted to flee.
Police have no motive for the shooting that occurred at the Power Ultra Lounge, and no arrests have been made.
“We do NOT believe this incident was an active shooter or terror-related incident. It appears to have been a dispute at a concert,” the Little Rock Police Department tweeted.
According to Police Chief Kenton Buckner, a dispute between attendees broke out and progressed to gunfire around 2:30 a.m. He said he believes it was gang-related.
“This does appear to be a continuation of disputes from some of our local groups,” Buckner said. “You’ve seen some of the things playing out in our streets that has resulted in drive-by shootings.”
Video posted to Facebook shows a mostly black crowd, with the group Finese2tymes performing on stage, before the unmistakeable sound of gunfire is heard at 4:17. Reports say 24 shots were fired in an 11-second period.
“I just closed my eyes, got down on the ground and put my hands on my head,” Courtney Swanigan, 23, told Associated Press.
Chief Buckner said police had not yet spoken with the rapper, who he said has outstanding warrants in the state.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statement following the shooting, expressing sympathy for the victims and vowing action.
“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 in a statement.
“We are still gathering facts, but it is clear that we need to have a comprehensive enforcement strategy in place that helps take the violent threats off the streets.”
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola called on the public to refuse to patronize clubs that glamorize violence. Posters promoting the concert by Memphis rapper Finese2Tymes featured 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,” Stodola said at an afternoon news conference.
“We know we’ve got to use a hammer, we’ve got to use a big hammer on the people who would do violence with guns and hurt people,” Stodola said.
Little Rock police have responded to a dozen drive-by shootings over the previous nine days.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced it would be assisting local police with the investigation.
BATF has already ordered suspension of the nightclub’s liquor permit.
“We will exercise the authority granted us under the law to preserve and safeguard the public safety,” Mary Robin Casteel, director of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said in a statement Saturday that cited three potential violations: failing to be a good neighbor, allowing possession of weapons on the premises as well as disorderly conduct.
“We feel the events which are alleged to have occurred warrant our decision to suspend liquor sales at this location pending further action by the board,” Casteel added.
Power Ultra Lounge’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.
A hearing before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is scheduled for July 10. The charges are expected to be disorderly conduct, allowing possession of weapons on the premises and “failure to be a good neighbor.”
This is a developing story.