Florida/ Fort Myers: 2 dead, 18 wounded in shooting at nightclub

By Updated at 2016-07-25 16:58:20 +0000

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Gun violence in the United States — Two male teenagers are dead and 18 others injured after a shooting at a Fort Myers, Florida, nightclub, according to the Fort Myers Police.

The latest burst of gun violence to wrack the state this summer occurred just after 12:30 a.m. EDT (0430 GMT) in the parking lot of Club Blu, which was hosting an event open to teenagers, the Fort Myers Police Department said in a statement.

A Facebook flier advertised a "Swimsuit Glow Party" at the establishment Sunday night. The flier said that no identification would be required to enter.

Police said Stef’An Strawder, an 18-year-old basketball star at a local high school, and Sean Archilles, 14, were killed. Two other people have potentially life-threatening injuries, local hospital officials said.

Although police said they did not know the motive for the shooting, they confirmed in a statement that "this incident is not an act of terror (as it has been referred) or terrorism."

Police said three people had been detained for questioning and that the area around the club was deemed safe, although roads in the vicinity remained closed.

Hospitals affiliated with the Lee Memorial Health System received 19 patients ranging in ages from 12 to 27 years from the nightclub shooting. Lisa Sgarlata, chief administrative officer for Lee Memorial Hospital, said an additional victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Four patients remain hospitalized at Lee Memorial Hospital. Two have potentially life-threatening injuries and are in a surgical intensive care unit, Dr. Drew Mikulaschek told reporters at a news conference.

The shooting came six weeks after a massacre at a nightclub in the Florida city of Orlando, where a lone gunman killed 49 people.

Club Blu, located about 150 miles southwest of Orlando in the Gulf Coast city of Fort Myers, was hosting a "swimsuit glow party" for people all ages, according to a flyer posted on Twitter by local television station WINK. To enter, patrons were not required to show proof that they were the legal age to drink alcoholic beverages.

The nightclub said on its Facebook page that the shooting occurred when the venue was closing and parents were picking up their children.

"We tried to give the teens what we thought was a safe place to have a good time," the statement said, pointing out that armed security guards were posted inside and outside the club. "It was not kids at the party that did this despicable act."

In a video interview with local media, Syreeta Gary said her daughter and a friend ran for cover from the gunshots, seeking safety at a nearby apartment complex.

“Dodging bullets and running, dropping between cars, it’s ridiculous that these kids have to go through this," Gary said in an interview posted on Twitter by a reporter for Fort Myers Fox affiliate WFTX. "They can’t enjoy themselves.”

Her daughter got out unscathed, but a bullet struck a friend in the leg, Gary said.

The teens who died both attended schools in Lee County, district spokeswoman Lauren Stillwell said. Archilles was due to enter the eighth grade at Royal Palm Exceptional Center, while Strawder was to start his senior year at Lehigh Senior High School.

Strawder's mother, Stephanie White, told the News-Press newspaper that her son was shot in his right shoulder as he walked out of the club. His 19-year-old sister survived a gunshot wound in the leg, White said.

Police said shots were also fired at a nearby residence, where there was one minor injury.

An all-out search for people involved in the incident is underway, Fort Myers police said.

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