LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Police say 25 people were shot after gunfire rang out Saturday at a rap show at a downtown Little Rock nightclub, prompting pleas from top leaders to curb the growing violence in Arkansas' capital city.
Police said the shooting at Power Ultra Lounge was the result of a dispute among clubgoers and not an active shooter or terror-related incident. Little Rock police said Saturday that 25 people were shot and three others suffered unrelated injuries. All were expected to survive, police said.
Police early Saturday cordoned off the block as crime-scene technicians gathered evidence from inside and outside the club. Glass from the club's second story windows littered the ground, along with empty drink cups.
Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner told reporters that "some sort of dispute broke out between people inside" the club and that there are "probably multiple shooting suspects."
A video posted online by a club patron, Darryl Rankin, showed a packed house for Finese 2Tymes, a performer from Memphis, Tennessee. About a half-minute into a break in the raucous concert, several bursts of gunfire rang out — more than 24 shots in an 11-second period.
Rankin told The Associated Press that he was recording the show on Facebook Live when gunfire erupted and that one of his friends is now at a hospital with a bullet "stuck in his spine."
Courtney Swanigan said she was near the front of the club with her sister when gunfire erupted about an hour into the show. They were not injured. She didn't know what led to the shooting, but she said she saw someone onstage with a handgun amid the melee.
"I just closed my eyes, got down on the ground and put my hands on my head," Swanigan said.
A posting in all capital letters on Finese 2Tymes' Facebook page expressed thoughts and prayers for those injured and said: "THE VIOLENCE IS NOT FOR THE CLUB PEOPLE. WE ALL COME WITH 1 MOTIVE AT THE END OF THE DAY, AND THATS TO HAVE FUN."
The shooting follows a week in which there have been about a dozen drive-by shootings in Little Rock, though there's no indication the events are linked.
"Little Rock's crime problem appears to be intensifying," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement. "Every few days it seems a high profile shooting dominates the news, culminating with this morning's event. I have spoken this morning with Mayor Stodola and I have offered both my heart felt concern over this senseless violent tragedy and state assets as needed to address the continued threat of violence in our community."
Early Saturday, Raida Bunche waited outside the club after she had heard from a friend that her son had been at the club. Later Saturday morning, she said she found out her son ran out once the shooting began and was unharmed.
"I'm sick of all the killing and I'm tired of all the shooting, the kids getting hurt," Bunche said.
Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control officials suspended the club's alcohol license hours after the shooting occurred and set a hearing for July 10. The club has previously had its license suspended 11 times for failing to pay taxes and 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.
"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," Mary Robin Casteel, director of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said in a statement.
The club's Facebook page promoted Friday night's show with a poster depicting a man pointing what appears to be a gun at the camera. A call to a number listed for Finese 2Tymes' booking agent wasn't immediately returned Saturday.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola said on Facebook that more information would be released at a news conference Saturday afternoon.
"My heart is broken this morning — my prayers are with the victims of this tragedy," he wrote. He went on to add, "We are committed to doing everything possible to bring safety to our city. We need everyone to help."
In May, one person was killed and six people were hurt in a mass shooting at a downtown concert in Jonesboro, Arkansas, about 115 miles (185 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock. In that case, two men were charged with first-degree murder and six counts of first-degree battery.
Arkansas lawmakers earlier this year approved a measure expanding where concealed handguns can be carried, including bars if allowed by owners, for licensees who undergo additional training. The law takes effect in September, but the training likely won't be available until early next year.
This story has been updated to correct the name of the nightclub to Power Ultra Lounge instead of Power Lounge and to correct spelling of mother's name who waited outside club to Raida Bunche.