Belfast Telegraph

Two youths killed in shooting at teen club night in Florida

By Terry Spencer

Gunfire erupted at a nightclub hosting a swimsuit-themed party for teenagers in Florida yesterday, leaving two youngsters dead and at least 17 others hurt.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the violence at Club Blu in Fort Myers, but authorities said the shooting was not an act of terror.

Officers detained three people and were searching for others, police chief Dennis Eads said.

The dead teenagers were named as Sean Archilles (14) and Stef'an Strawder (18).

Sean lived about a mile from the nightclub and loved to play football and basketball, said his father, Jean Archilles.

"He liked to make people laugh - he's a funny kid, he's always joking," Mr Archilles added.

Stef'an was a star basketball player for Lehigh High School, according to The News-Press.

"Everyone was afraid to play against him because he was so good," said fellow basketball player Peyton Hebon.

Four people were in hospital last night, two of them in critical condition and two described as being in a fair condition

All the other patients were treated and released. The victims ranged in age from 12 to 27.

"It's horrible when these things happen," governor Rick Scott said at a news conference.

He also noted, however, that the state was currently seeing a 45-year low in the crime rate.

There were two active crime scenes after yesterday's incident - the club and a street in the area that also remained closed as police investigated.

The club is in a roadside shopping centre that includes a daycare centre and is across the street from a large apartment complex.

The shooting happened at about 12.30am yesterday, just as the club was closing and parents were arriving in the area to pick up their children.

Syreeta Gary told WFTX-TV her daughter ran to avoid being shot. While she escaped unhurt, her friend was shot in the leg.

"Her dodging bullets and running, dropping in between cars... it's ridiculous that these kids have to go through this," Ms Gary said.

"They can't enjoy themselves because you have other people that have criminalistic minds and they just want to terrorise things."

Club owner Cheryl Filardi, who said she was in the back room when the shots rang out, added that at least 10 security guards were hired for the party.

"To be honest with you, every day someone's getting shot in this area," she added. "These days in Lee County, somebody's always shooting.

"If we do teenage parties, we always have a tonne of security, and we've never had a problem before."

Belfast Telegraph


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