Two Teens, 18 and 14, Killed in Florida Club Mass Shooting; Police Seek Motive, But Rule Out Terror
The injuries at Club Blu ranged from minor to life threatening and two of the victims later died of their wounds, police say
A 14-year-old and 18-year-old were killed and at least 14 others were wounded in a shooting outside a Florida nightclub early Monday, police said.
Authorities responded to the parking lot outside Club Blu in Fort Myers about 12:30 a.m. local time, where they found numerous victims suffering from gunshot wounds, Fort Myers police Capt. Jim Myers confirms to PEOPLE.
The slain victims were Sean Archilles, 14, and Stef’an Strawder, 18, police said in a news release. Police said they were still working to determine a motive, but said the shooting was not an act of terrorism.
Police are still trying to confirm the exact number of victims – some are believed to have taken themselves to the hospital. Their injuries ranged from minor to life threatening, police said.
Witnesses to the shooting described rapid gunfire breaking into an otherwise normal scene, as a “Glow Party and Birthday Bash” event at Club Blu was wrapping up shortly after midnight, according to multiple reports.
“We did everything we could to make sure these kids were safe,” Club Blu co-owner Cheryl Filardi told the News-Press. “There was nothing we could do … a car rolled up and just started shooting.”
Filardi said the club had eight armed guards there that night, and that one of them was injured in the shooting, according to the News-Press. She said she believes one of the guns used was an automatic weapon, based on how fast it fired.
Syreeta Gary told Fox 4 News that her daughter was “dodging bullets” during the shooting, but was not injured. Her daughter’s friend was shot in the leg, however.
Moments before the shooting, witness Jermaine Wilson said he saw only a parking lot full of teenagers and music.
And then: “I saw everybody running,” Wilson told the New York Times, adding, “a bunch of people were screaming names.”
At a Monday morning news conference, Lee Memorial Hospital chief administrative officer Lisa Sgarlata said two shooting victims are in critical condition and two are in fair condition, and that the remaining people were treated and released.
Local hospital officials told the Times that victims as young as 12 years old began arriving at Lee Memorial Hospital about an hour after the shooting. Two other victims taken to other hospitals were treated and released, the Times reported.
A person who was purportedly wounded in the shooting posted a video of himself with a neck brace and bruises. Along with the video, the person – Timothy Settles – wrote a post saying, “I don’t wabna [sic] die.”
The club said it was “deeply sorry for all involved,” according to a statement on its Facebook page on Monday.
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“We tried to give the teens WHAT WE THOUGHT WAS A SAFE PLACE TO HAVE A GOOD TIME. Ages 12-17. There was armed security as well as full security, inside and out,” the post read. “As the club was closing and parents were picking their children up…..that’s when all this took place. There was nothing more we could of done az [sic] you see it was not kids at the party that did this despicable act.”
Other Crime Scenes
One other person was wounded in a separate shooting outside a home on Parkway Street, approximately a half mile from Club Blu, that police said is believed to be connected to the club shooting. Police said a home and several vehicles were shot on the block.
Police are also searching a site along Ortiz Avenue, roughly six miles from the club, where they said three people were taken in for questioning.
The club shooting remains under investigation. Police said the area is safe.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Fort Myers police at 239-321-7700 or to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS or by text at 274637, keyword FMPD. Tips can remain anonymous.
Club Blu bills itself as a New Orleans-style restaurant and lounge, according to its Facebook page.