26 Jul 2016

Florida club shooting of teens 'not terrorism'

10:33 am on 26 July 2016

The shooting at a nightclub in the United States which left two teenagers dead and 19 injured was not a terrorist attack and the area has been made safe, authorities have said.

Police mark a bullethole from the attack in which two teenagers, aged 14 and 18, died.

Police mark a bullethole from the attack in which two teenagers, aged 14 and 18, died. Photo: AFP

The shooting at the parking lot of Club Blu in Fort Myers, Florida, happened about 12.30am (local time) on Monday.

Police said Stef'An Strawder, 18, and Sean Archilles, 14, were killed.

There were 19 people taken to hospital after the attack, aged between 12 and 27 years old, Lee Memorial Hospital chief administrative officer Lisa Sgarlata said. By Monday afternoon, three of the injured remained in hospital, two of whom were in a critical condition.

Shots were also fired at a home and a vehicle, where one person suffered a minor injury.

Police said three people had been detained for questioning early on Monday and they were still searching for additional suspects, but the area around the club had been deemed safe.

"This was not a terrorist act," Fort Myers interim police chief Dennis Eads said.

Fort Myers interim police chief Dennis Eads speaks to media.

Fort Myers interim police chief Dennis Eads speaks to media. Photo: AFP

Officers responding to the shooting found chaos at the scene. "No one really knew what was going on or what happened," Mr Eads said.

He said officers provided first aid to victims, bandaging some with tourniquets to stop bleeding. Paramedics took some victims to the hospital while others drove themselves.

The club, located in a partially vacant strip mall, was hosting a "swimsuit glow party" for people all ages, a flyer posted on Twitter by local television station WINK said.

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

The nightclub where the attack happened, Blu, had been holding an all ages "swimsuit glow party".

The nightclub where the attack happened, Blu, had been holding an all ages "swimsuit glow party". Photo: AFP

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

The shooting came just a few weeks after a man who sympathised with extremist Islamic groups killed 49 people in Orlando at a gay nightclub.

Jean Archilles, the father of the 14-year-old killed, said his son loved sports, especially basketball.

"I don't know where he was shot," the 37-year-old father said in a telephone interview. "I don't know. Nothing I can explain."

He said his son was the baby of his family, with three older brothers, and was born in Fort Myers.

Mr 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 and was pronounced dead at the hospital. The young basketball star's 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.

- Reuters

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