FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - One person has died and at least two others were injured after shots were fired inside of a Blue Martini bar in Fort Lauderdale.
Friday afternoon, one person remained hospitalized at Broward Health Medical Center.
Police responded to The Galleria Mall on the 2400 block of East Sunrise Boulevard just before 12 a.m., Thursday.
The injured victims were transported to Broward Health Medical Center. There have been conflicting reports as to how many people were injured in the shooting, but officials said many of the injuries were minor.
Police identified the deceased victim as Arnold Person, who would have been 44 years old on Thursday.
Speaking with reporters, Fort Lauderdale Police spokesperson Tracy Figone said it all began as an altercation involving Person and a small group of people.
“This was not an active shooter incident. This was an isolated incident,” she said. “Two individuals, it appears to be that they were in some type of dispute.”
“You heard one shot, everyone kind of puzzled for a minute, and then you started to hear repeated, and that’s when everyone kind of ran for the doors,” said witness Ean Carroll. “It was just, kind of a surreal scene of a few people down at the end of the bar.”
“I heard very loud sounds that I thought was my drummer banging on a snare drum,” added Eddie Bustamante, who was performing at the bar at the time of the shooting, “and as soon we put two and two together, we realized that it wasn’t. My entire band pretty much left the stage and went to the parking lot as fast as possible.”
Witnesses said the man who was fatally shot was part of a group gathered at the cocktail lounge to celebrate the life of a loved one who’d passed away.
Mark Hunter said they were celebrating the birthday of his friend’s wife, who passed away from cancer in April.
“I don’t even know how to feel right now. We just went to her funeral a month ago, so this is crazy,” said Hunter. “I don’t know how he’s going to take it or anybody in the family because this is not right.”
Hunter said he was in the restroom, heard shots being fired and ran out to see multiple people injured.
“I saw the brother-in-law on the ground,” said Hunter. “They were trying to contain him. He was getting panicky. To the left, the other brother was laying there, and the shooter was laying next to him. I guess people jumped on him to stop him from shooting more people. That was a good thing. They jumped on him and tried to get him, and another dude picked the gun up.”
“We saw the entire crowd just duck down. The bartenders were ducking down,” said Bustamante, “but we just left the scene. We hopped over the stage, and everybody went toward the exits as quick as possible.”
Authorities originally said the suspected shooter was taken into custody but later gave an update saying no arrests have been made.
While it may turn out that this was an isolated fight that took a deadly turn, witnesses said you can never be too careful.
“These days, you just get concerned as to is it an altercation or is it an active shooter-type thing?” said Carroll. “This one seemed to be just contained.”
Michael Goodman, owner of Blue Martini, released a statement on Thursday morning:
“We are committed to the safety and security of our valued guests. This isolated incident is the result of an altercation that took a tragic turn. We applaud the Fort Lauderdale Police for their quick response, which led to one suspect in custody. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased victim and two others who were injured.”
Person’s daughter, who had posted a playful Snapchat video of her father online, publicly asked for him on Thursday to watch over their family.
Police urged witnesses who may have taken photos or recorded video to come forward, as they continue to investigate.
As of Friday afternoon, no arrests have been made while police review surveillance footage from the nightclub.
“We thought it was safe, and it was never safe at all,” said Hunter.
The Blue Martini at Galleria Mall reopened to the public on Saturday.
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