(WICHITA, Kan.) — Seven people were shot and two others were trampled when a gunfight involving multiple patrons erupted early Sunday inside a Wichita, Kansas, nightclub, sparking a chaotic stampede for the exit door, according to police.
At least four guns were fired during the wild shootout that erupted at 12:58 a.m. inside the City Nightz nightclub in the Old Town section of Wichita, Lt. Aaron Moses, executive officer of the Wichita Police Department, said at a news conference on Sunday.
Moses said an individual suspected of being one of the gunmen who opened fire inside the nightclub was taken into custody, and investigators are working to identify others involved in the shooting.
“Our investigation has shown us that at least four firearms were discharged inside the establishment during this incident,” Moses said.
The shooting came despite an increased police presence in the Old Town area due to previous problems, including a shooting in May that killed a 19-year-old woman, officials said.
Officers were on patrol outside City Nightz when “they heard a disturbance and screams from inside the business and then a large number of people exited the business,” Moses said.
“Through that chaos … we ended up identifying, at this point, seven shooting victims and two traumatic injury victims,” Moses said. “We believe all of the injuries occurred inside the business.”
He said the two people who suffered traumatic injuries, a 30-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man, were trampled in the mass scramble to escape the gunfire.
He said a motive for the shooting is under investigation.
At least four guns were seized from inside the nightclub and police were analyzing them to determine if any of them were used in the shooting, Moses said.
He said the shooting victims included two women and five men ranging in age from 21 to 34.
Five of the victims were taken to hospitals by ambulance, while the others showed up at emergency rooms on their own. One of the people injured was in critical condition, while the others are expected to survive non-life-threatening injuries, Moses said.
“As the mayor of the city of Wichita, we have to take actions to push back against this increase in gun violence that we have been seeing,” Mayor Brandon Whipple said at a news conference Sunday. “We have to come together as a community and talk with our young people, in particular, that resorting to gun violence is not a way to resolve any of the problems or issues.”
Witchita Police Chief Joe Joe Sullivan said he was disturbed to learn so many guns were either used or seized inside the nightclub.
“There’s going to be an extensive investigation to find out how firearms got into this club and who’s responsible for bringing them in there,” Sullivan said.
Detective Chris Merceau of the Wichita Police Department said at Sunday’s news conference that police have responded to 12 incidents associated with City Nightz in the past year, including investigating aggravated battery cases and a May 21 drive-by shooting.
Owners of City Nightz could not be reached for comment. A phone message left at the club was not immediately returned.
Merceau said the past problems at the nightclub prompted an investigation by the police department’s Special Investigations Bureau. He said officers met with the club owners on May 25 to discuss security concerns.
“We discussed the importance of wanding people using metal detectors, having working video cameras, maintaining the parking lot and other best practices,” Merceau said. “Whether or not those practices and recommendations were followed here will be determined by this investigation.”
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