LITTLE ROCK, ARK. —
Clubgoers screamed and scrambled for cover as dozens of gunshots rang out during a rap concert in downtown Little Rock early Saturday, 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 the lack of 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 Saturday afternoon. Police said officers did not have any suspects in custody.
Courtney Swanigan, 23, told The Associated Press that when the gunfire rang out, “I just closed my eyes, got down on the ground and put my hands on my head.”
Shutting down the club
City officials said they would move Monday to shut down the club under a “criminal abatement” program. State regulators suspended the club’s liquor license earlier Saturday.
The shooting capped a violent week in Arkansas’ largest city. Police had responded to a dozen drive-by shootings over the previous nine days.
“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.’’
Vigil for the injured
About 100 people gathered at Second Baptist Church Saturday night for a candlelight vigil, seeking healing for those injured, and the community.
Arkansas lawmakers this year passed a law allowing concealed handguns in bars, with permission of the businesses’ owners and if the gun permit holder completes additional training. The law takes effect Sept. 1, but the training likely won’t be available until next year.