GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis said one suspect was arrested and they are looking to identify three other persons of interest following a shooting at Lavish Lounge nightclub over the weekend.
According to Lewis, the shooting at the nightclub that happened early Sunday morning started after a fight in front of the stage, and said a total number of 12 rounds were fired, hitting 10 victims.
Lewis said the 10 victims were taken to Prisma Health for treatment.
The Greenville County Coroner’s office said two shooting victims — identified as Clarence Sterling Johnson, 51, of Duncan, and Mykala Bell, 23, of Greenville — died at the hospital. Sheriff Lewis said Johnson was a security guard at the nightclub.
As of Tuesday, Lewis said only one shooting victim remained in the hospital.
Watch the full news conference below:
The sheriff said the shooting appears to have been gang-related, as gang signs were displayed between those involved in the incident before the shooting occurred.
Lewis said Jarquez Kezavion Cooper was arrested in Georgia Monday with assistance by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, Gwinnett County Police Department, the Secret Service and the FBI.
Cooper has been charged with two counts of murder, seven counts of attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. Investigators said Cooper is accused of being the shooter who fired shots from the stage.
He is currently awaiting extradition back to the area.
The sheriff’s office said they are still looking to identify three other people involved in the shooting.
“These guys’ lives are going to be changed forever–from a jail standpoint–and look at the lives they changed from the harm they inflicted on people, people they don’t even know,” Sheriff Lewis said.
Lewis said they believe the persons of interest in this case are currently in the Athens and Atlanta area in Georgia.
According to Lewis, there were at least two shooters in the incident and said several people in the nightclub were in possession of guns.
When asked how the firearms made it inside the club that night, Lewis said the guns were brought in through a back door where the performer and his entourage entered.
Lewis said they believe the persons of interest are tied to the performer, and are possibly part of his entourage.
“I’ll be extremely clear,” Lewis said. “Everybody that has a gun in this video you watched was with this performer and came in the back door.”
“Everyone is searched coming in the front door. This was an access for the entertainer and his entourage, for a lack of a better term, about 40 people,” Lewis said. “Some of those were searched, some of those were not and some even at his discretion. You can see him touch the security guard and kind of give them a free pass, everybody that had a backpack. So, we think that they were brought in, obviously, through the back door and then somewhere distributed possibly in the club.”
During the news conference, Lewis said he was proud of his deputies and their response efforts the night of the shooting.
“A deputy on-scene saw the need for immediate medical assistance for one of the victims, so he loaded the victim into his patrol car and transported them to the hospital at Prisma Health on his own,” Lewis said. “Another deputy assisted EMS by driving the ambulance to the hospital so both medics could provide life-saving aid to one of the victims.”
“We couldn’t be anymore proud of the men and women who worked that night and serve this community,” he said.
“We don’t know how much ammunition they had, but if they wanted to pin down in that club and shoot at police when they were arriving and hold hostages, they had the potential to keep a hundred of those folks inside that club,” Lewis said. “If they’d have locked the doors, made a list of demands, it could have been catastrophic.”
“Ten people shot, two are dead, eight lives changed forever that are injured. That’s horrific. But, thank God it wasn’t 11. That number could have kept going,” he said.
In his message to the suspects, Lewis said “we’re coming to get you. We’re going to get to the bottom of it. People are cooperating. We’re going to get the truth of the story of what happened, and you’re going to be held accountable.”
Lewis said the shooting investigation remains active at this time.
The sheriff’s office and Greenville County Council are working on a county ordinance this week to try and shut down both the Lavish Lounge and a nearby club where another shooting occurred. The two shooting incidents are not connected.
Lewis said during the news conference that the second reported club shooting occurred at Saturday morning at Club Dolce, located at 1705 White Horse Road in Greenville.
He said the sheriff’s office is working with the county administrator and county council, the Department of Revenue and the Governor’s Office to close both of those establishments.
“We’re going to use every possible resource, I promise you, to close both of these clubs just as quick as we can do it,” Lewis said.