A shooting in front of a Fort Myers night club left two teenagers dead and at least 18 other people injured. Early Monday, attackers sprayed bullets into a crowd that had been in the nightclub, attending a party for teenagers. Witnesses to the incident said that the gunmen began firing shortly after midnight outside of Club Blu.
Police investigating the incident will not discuss a possible motive for the attack, but they have said that it has nothing to do with terrorism. There were three persons if interest taken into custody, but police would not release their names.
Leading up to the night, the club had advertised a swimsuit glow party, aimed at the younger crowd. There was to be live music and a $5 cover charge. The event at Club Blu had ended and people were leaving when the shooting began. Residents that live near the club have said that the area is ripe with drug dealing and violence.
A user on Facebook posted a video to her page shortly after the shooting. The woman said that she had been across the street in a vehicle when the attack began. She and her friends joined a crowd of people running from the area as approximately five people began “spraying nonstop, running and shooting.”
The two teenagers killed were identified as Stef’An Strawder, 18, and Sean Archilles, 14. Both of the teenage boys had just left the club.
Archilles was a student at Royal Palm Exceptional School. His brothers said that he was shot in the parking lot. They also said that a girl who was with him was shot in the leg. Archilles was the youngest of four brothers and was passionate about basketball, despite his size of only 5-foot-6.
Strawder was a student at Lehigh Senior High School. He was going to be a senior this fall and was looking forward to playing ball in college. His family took to Facebook to express their grief. “My heart hurts, I’m furious, and I can’t stop shedding tears,” said Napoleon Rayner, Strawder’s cousin.
Among the wounded were people ranging in age from 12 to 27, according to the chief administrative officer of Lee Memorial Hospital. One of the teenagers died at the scene and the other at the hospital. Only four of 16 wounded remained at the hospital the next day. Two of those victims were listed in critical condition.
Because there were so many people running from the scene as police arrived, the incident proved to be chaotic. This was especially evident as the number of wounded continued to climb throughout the day. Police surmise that this was because some people took themselves to the hospital.
Sadly for Fort Myers, the city is wracked with poverty and gang violence, according to F.B.I. reports. Shootings and other violent crimes are a too-common occurrence in certain sections of the city. Violent crime is about triple the nation’s average.
Club Blu posted a statement on its Facebook page Monday: “We are deeply sorry for all involved. We tried to give the teens what we thought was a safe place to have a good time.” The statement also said: “It was not the kids at the party that did this despicable act.”
Despite the club’s statement, the intended atmosphere of the club and its reputation in the community seem to be conflicting at times. Just before advertising the teen party, the club promoted a “no panties” night, encouraging women to go sans underwear in exchange for free admission. Exactly what type of crowd the club hopes to attract is unclear.
No matter the club, the day of week or time of day, no one should have to be frightened to go out and enjoy themselves. Partygoers and those just looking for a relaxing evening out should be able to leave their homes and not worry that they won’t return. If you are going out this weekend, please stay aware of your surroundings and stick with people you know. The buddy system may not protect you from gunfire, but it will certainly keep you safer in a crowd of strangers.
If you are injured in Fort Myers or the surrounding area, please call our office. A member of our team will review the details of your case and advise you of your options under current Florida law. We are here for you and your family, and your first consultation will be held at no cost. Call now or browse our website for more information about the types of cases we handle.