Two killed, 14 injured in Florida nightclub shooting

It happened after midnight in Club Blu carpark after swimsuit party for young people

MIAMI • At least two people were killed and 14 others wounded in a shooting early yesterday at a Florida nightclub, in an incident that occurred at a party for teenagers.

Officers have detained one "person of interest" and two others for questioning over the shooting at Club Blu in Fort Myers.

The Fort Myers Police Department reported that while two individuals were fatally shot, "at least 14 to 16" more sustained minor to life-threatening wounds during the episode, which occurred shortly after midnight in the club's carpark. One hospital reported having received an injured reveller as young as 12 years old.

A nearby home and vehicles were also shot at, resulting in one minor injury, the department said in a statement.

According to a flyer posted on Twitter by local television station WINK, Club Blu was hosting a "swimsuit glow party" for people of all ages. To enter, patrons were not required to show proof that they were of legal drinking age.

In a Facebook post, Club Blu described the gathering as a party for young people. It said the shooting erupted only after the event had ended, as teenagers were leaving the club and parents were arriving to pick them up.

"We are deeply sorry for all involved. We tried to give the teens what we thought was a safe place to have a good time," the club said.

The police department said officers are "actively canvassing the area looking for other persons who may be involved in this incident", although the area had been deemed safe.

"At this time, the scene is still very active as investigators and crime scene personnel attempt to determine what had occurred," it said in its statement, adding that streets in multiple areas had been closed.

The attack comes just six weeks after an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12 left 49 dead in the worst gun massacre in recent US history.

Police killed the gunman, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old US citizen of Afghan origin, after a three-hour standoff.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility for that attack, calling Mateen "one of the soldiers of the caliphate".

US authorities have said he was apparently radicalised after watching extremist propaganda online.

One woman, who claimed she witnessed the Club Blu shooting, said on Facebook Live that she was talking with friends in the carpark of the apartment complex across the street from the club when she heard the gunshots and saw teenagers running towards them.

She described the bullets as "spraying non-stop".

Her group hid under a car, she said, and at one point, they started running. The woman said she saw someone who had been shot four or five times lying on the ground and watched another person getting shot in the back.

"Instead of getting school clothes and all that," she said of the teens' parents, "they're making funeral arrangements".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS, THE WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2016, with the headline 'Two killed, 14 injured in Florida nightclub shooting'. Print Edition | Subscribe