FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The family of a man who was fatally gunned down at a popular Fort Lauderdale hotspot addressed the tragedy publicly for the first time, as new details surrounding the shooting continued to surface.
Officials said 52-year-old Andre Clark, a retired Drug Enforcement Agency agent, opened fire inside the Blue Martini bar along the 2400 block of East Sunrise Boulevard, May 9.
He’s said to be cooperating with investigators but has not yet been charged.
Person’s family spoke to 7News at their attorney’s office in Plantation, Thursday.
Relatives said the victim, identified as 44-year-old Arnold Person, and several others were at the nightclub celebrating the life of a family friend who had recently died.
“We had an amazing time, the whole night, up until that little incident, the whole night, no trouble, no nothing,” said his sister, Natasha Cooks.
But investigators said, just before midnight, violence erupted inside the bar. As a band played, an altercation escalated and shots were fired.
“I didn’t see anything. I just heard, and I ducked,” said Cooks.
Person’s family said he was shot several times and died at the scene.
“I’m gonna miss my brother,” said Cooks. “He was a good man, a good brother. I’m speechless now. He works hard in our church. My mother is the pastor. He works very hard to make the ministry function like a ministry should.”
Person’s mother, Sarah Person, said she’s still grappling with the sudden loss.
“I’m a pastor, so trouble is not strange to me, but when it hits your house it’s different,” she said.
Person’s brother, Anthony Person, spoke out about the suspect.
“This is somebody who’s trained, knows how to de-escalate an issue if there was an issue,” he said.
Person was a large man. His family said he was intimidating, but they said he was the type to avoid a fight.
“He’s really a big teddy bear. You would be intimated by him because he is big,” said his mother. “He was a linebacker who played football, but he is a mush.”
None of the family members could figure out how a night meant to be a celebration of life escalated to “some sort of incident.” They also want to know why a former law enforcement officer would bring a gun to a nightclub.
“He deserved to die old, around his kids and family, not murdered face first on the Blue Martini floor,” said his brother. “For him to be in there with a gun and shooting to kill off what altercation is crazy.”
Police said it is not legal for civilians to carry a firearm inside of a nightclub.
“You’re not supposed to have a firearm inside of a bar,” Fort Lauderdale Police Maj. Frank Sousa said.
Clark’s attorney, Jeffrey Neiman, released a statement Thursday afternoon that read, “The early accounts of what happened that night are not accurate. No arrests were made on the scene and for good reason. When the dust settles, it will be clear that Andre was not the aggressor and that he acted in self-defense.”
Another victim hurt in the shooting refused to speak with 7News because they were still recovering from an illness and gunshot wound.
7News has reached out to Fort Lauderdale Police for a statement but have yet to hear back.
Police continue to investigate.
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