At least two people were killed and more than a dozen others injured after a shooting outside a Florida nightclub hosting an event for teens, officials said early Monday.
The gunfire rang out just as family members were picking up their kids from Club Blu in Fort Myers, where the “no ID required” party had just finished.
Some of the victims as young as 12, according to authorities. The two victims who died were identified by Fort Myers police Monday morning as Ste’fan Strawder, 18 and Sean Archilles, 14.
“We are deeply sorry for all involved,” Club Blu said in a Facebook post. “We tried to give the teens what we thought was a safe place to have a good time.”
The club said there was “armed security” at the event for children between the ages of 12 and 17, adding there “was nothing more we could have done.” Although police did not immediately give information about the identity of the suspects, the club said that “it was not kids at the party that did this despicable act.”
Police said that officers responded to the parking lot of Club Blu at around 12:30 a.m. to find multiple people suffering gunshot wounds ranging from minor to life-threatening. They said Monday that the violence was not an act of terror.
At least 17 people were hurt, said Lisa Sgarlata, the Chief Administration Officer of Lee Memorial Hospital, where 16 people sought treatment. Sgarlata said many were released from the hospital quickly, and only four remained hospitalized late Monday morning. Two were in fair condition and two were in critical condition.
The victims were aged between 12 and 27.
“This is not something we’re used to — not in this type of volume by any stretch,” said Lee Memorial trauma surgeon Dr. Andrew W. Mikulaschek. “I have been here 17 years … in terms of gunshot wound victims, this is the worse I’ve ever seen.”
Shots were also fired — lightly injuring another person — five blocks away from the nightclub, police said. That crime scene was one of three related to the same shooting, WBBH reported.
Three people were detained for questioning early Monday.
Earlier, officers said three people left the scene in a car with two later fleeing the vehicle, according to WBBH reporter Gabrielle Shirley.
Shirley reported that “a big crowd of people scattered everywhere taking cover” when the gunshots rang out.
She added that an employee at the club was too shocked to speak. “He was just shaking his head, and through tears giving me the indication again that this is a very, very traumatic experience here, he could not even form words,” Shirley added.
The Miami Herald reports:
FORT MYERS, FLA.
Two teenagers were killed and more than a dozen people shot at a nightclub in Fort Myers, Florida, early Monday morning, in an attack authorities said they were still investigating but insisted was not an act of terror.
Gunfire erupted outside Club Blu, at 3580 Evans Avenue, at about 12:30 a.m., where police found at least 16 victims suffering from gunshot wounds in the parking lot., police Capt. Jim Mulligan said. Injuries ranged from minor to life threatening, Fort Myers police said in a statement.
Three people were taken into custody and police were investigating two active crime scenes Monday morning, Mulligan said.
Victims, some as young as 12 and others as old as 27, were taken by Lee County Emergency Medical Services to local hospitals, though some were able to seek treatment on their own, the New York Times reported.
Police named the two deceased victims as Stef’An Strawder, 18, and Sean Archilles, 14.
Lee Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Cheryl Garn told the Times that the hospital treated 16 victims in the trauma center and emergency department, one of whom died, and that another victim was treated at Cape Coral Hospital nearby. She said four were still hospitalized and that one was in critical condition.
Mulligan said the area of the shooting was deemed safe, but a street was still closed as authorities investigated. Authorities said in a statement that the Fort Myers police and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office were “actively canvassing the area looking for other persons who may be involved in this incident.”
Club Blu had advertised a “Swimsuit Glow Party” Sunday night open to people of all ages on its Facebook page, and said in a since-deleted post that the party was “a middle school/high school event.”
Syreeta Gary, whose daughter was at the club when the shooting broke out, told TV station Fox 4 that her daughter’s friend was shot in the leg as they tried to escape.
“I just thank God that my daughter is okay, because she could have been shot,” Gary told the station. “Her dodging bullets and running and dropping between cars, it’s ridiculous that these kids have to go through this. They can’t enjoy themselves because you have other people that have criminal minds and they just want to terrorize things.”
News of the shooting unfolded on Facebook early Monday, as patrons and witnesses posted about the gunshots they saw and heard. Another club patron wrote she heard the gunshots outside and hid under a table as the attack occurred, TV station WINK reported. “Everyone tried to run and duck for cover. I’m sorry I’m so shaken up,” she wrote, according to the station.
A nearby resident who witnessed the shooting wrote on Facebook that she first heard the gunshots as she was sitting in the car in her apartment complex with her sister and friends, and that they ran into her building when they heard the sound of bullets get closer. “My ears are still ringing,” she wrote.
The names of the injured were not immediately available, but a man who wrote on Facebook that he was headed to Club Blu that night posted a brief livestream of himself in a hospital bed several hours later.
“I don’t [wanna] die,” he posted on Facebook around the time of the shooting.
The club posted a status on Facebook shortly after the shooting criticizing commenters for speculating about the attack, before replacing the status with another expressing sadness for the victims and asserting that the event had had armed security. “There was nothing more we could [have] done,” the club wrote.
The shooting comes more than a month after a gay nightclub shooting in Orlando that was the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history. The shooting at the Pulse nightclub on June 12 left 49 victims dead and 53 others wounded.
Photos of the two teenagers who have been fatally shot: