CINCINNATI (AP) — A mother of five who was wounded in the Cincinnati nightclub shooting described a chaotic scene in which she and other club patrons were frantically crawling over one another to reach the exits and said that all she could think about was her kids.
One man was killed and Angel Higgins and 15 other people were injured in the shooting at the Cameo club, a popular hip-hop music spot near the Ohio river east of downtown Cincinnati.
Higgins told WCPO-TV that she is still struggling to understand what happened.
“All I can hear is gunshots,” she said. “I don’t know what to tell my kids.”
The initial investigation indicated a dispute in the bar escalated into a gunfight early Sunday, Police Chief Eliot Isaac said.
Police believe multiple shooters were involved, and they estimate more than 20 shots were fired. No club security footage of the shooting has emerged.
Higgins said she felt one bullet fly past her face. Soon after, another struck her in the leg and she collapsed.
“I fell and everybody was just diving on me, falling on top of me, and all I thought was, ‘I cannot die by getting smothered by all these people,'” she said.
Higgins stumbled out of the club and then drove herself to a hospital, while she said police and firefighters used ambulances for those victims who were more seriously injured. Two of the injured remained in critical condition Tuesday and three were in stable condition.
Police declined to comment on whether they had identified any possible suspects.
“We’re gathering information … we’re making some progress,” Isaac said, while urging more witnesses to come forward.
Isaac said the nightclub had metal detectors, or wands, but was not required to by law. Four police officers were working off-duty security details in the club parking lot, but he emphasized the club provided its own security inside.
Late Monday, Cameo club operator Julian “Jay” Rodgers released a statement saying the venue would close its doors for good on Friday.
“Earlier this morning, Cameo received a notice to vacate the premises from the landlord and owner of the property,” Rodgers said. “Cameo notified the owner that although it had planned to move out in May due to the landlord’s planned sale of the property, it will instead voluntarily surrender possession of the property immediately.”
The club already had voluntarily surrendered its liquor license.
City officials said Cameo had been the scene of past violence, including a shooting inside the club on New Year’s Day in 2015 and one in the parking lot in September of that year.
Several city leaders pledged to find ways to prevent such violence, while acknowledging such outbreaks continue to occur in public venues across the country. Mayor John Cranley said the city has gotten outpouring of support from elected officials, including fellow mayors in other cities.
“I think they know that this could happen anywhere,” Cranley said.
Shootings at U.S. bars and nightclubs have rarely involved more than a handful people. But the Orlando, Florida, nightclub massacre last June that killed 49 people and injured 53 was the exception, making it the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
One teen died and eight others were injured in 2010 when gunfire broke out in the parking lot of a St. Louis club after a group was turned away from entering. Two teen girls died and seven other people were hurt in a 2009 shooting outside an underage nightclub in Portland, Oregon.
In Cincinnati, four candles illuminated a makeshift memorial outside the club Monday morning. A poster dedicated to O’Bryan Spikes, the man killed, said “R.I.P. Lucky” and “Father Son Uncle Brother.”
Seewer reported from Toledo. Associated Press reporters Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus and John Minchillo in Cincinnati and AP researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed.
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