Two killed as gunman opens fire at Florida nightclub

Picture: AP
Picture: AP
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A fourteen year old boy and an 18-year-old high school basketball star were killed in a shooting outside of a Florida nightclub which left a further 16 people injured.

Shots were fired in the car park of Club Blu in Fort Myers shortly after midnight, local time.

The shooting is “not an act of terror”, Fort Myers Police said.

Stef’an Strawder, a high school senior, was named by police as one of the deceased, while 14-year-old Shawn Achilles was also killed.

It is thought that Strawder’s 19-year-old sister, Sharrelle, also suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.

Eyewitnesses told of how they had to hide behind cars to dodge bullets, while others were shot as they tried to escape. The ages of those injured ranges from 12 to 27.

The club, which advertises itself as a “New Orleans style soulfood restaurant and lounge” was hosting a “swimsuit glow party” for teenagers. It said in a statement that the shooting happened while parents were picking up their youngsters from the event.

The incident comes less than two months after Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in gay nightclub Pulse, in Orlando, around 200 miles away from Fort Myers.

It is believed that three people have since been detained by police.

Club Blu claimed it had armed security at the party, which was advertised as “No ID required”.

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

It added: “There was armed security as well as full security, inside and out. There was nothing more we could of done as you see it was not kids at the party that did this despicable act. Our condolences to all parties involved.”

Mother Syreeta Gary told American TV channel Fox 4 that her daughter escaped the shooting, but said that the girl’s best friend was shot in the leg.

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She said: “I just thank God that my daughter is OK, because she could have been shot. Her dodging bullets and running dropping between cars is what these kids have to go through, can’t enjoy themselves because these other people have criminalistic minds and want to terrorise things.”

Florida musician Nieya McGriff, who was performing at the event, said on her Facebook page that she was in the car park when the shots were fired.

“As soon as I’m on my way back to the car they started shooting,” she wrote.

She added while the incident was ongoing: “Bodies still on the ground y’all idk who at hospital.”

A statement from the Fort Myers Police Department said officers were still trying to determine a motive for the shooting.

It said: “The Fort Myers Police Department would like to confirm that this incident is not an act of terror (as it has been referred) or terrorism.”

It added: “Investigators are working very hard to determine a motive.”

Shots were also fired at another location close to the nightclub, where a property and vehicles are believed to have been hit. It was one of three locations which police said were connected with enquiries.

Members of the public paid tribute to those killed and injured on social media.

Former college basketball star Brett Comer said that Strawder had attended camps at Florida Gulf Coast University, where he had been a coach.

He wrote on Twitter: “Rip to Stef’an Strawder. Was a great guy with a bright future. Sad to hear about his passing.”

‎Marissa Grear‎ wrote: “Sending prayers and good vibes from Memphis. My heart is with everyone involved and their families. Praying for those recovering and those who have passed on.”

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