COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - In a press conference on Saturday about an overnight drive-by shooting in Columbia's Vista, Police Chief Skip Holbrook said he has deemed the nightclub where the shooting started as a public nuisance and has padlocked the club's doors closed.
Officers responded to the Empire Supper Club at 920 Lady Street at 2:10 a.m. Chief Holbrook said some officers were already patrolling the area and heard the gunshots. Officers arrived on the scene within seconds and found multiple people with gunshot wounds. An altercation outside the rear of the Empire Supper Club had escalated to shots being fired.
Multiple blocks near Gervais and Park streets were blocked off to traffic for some time.
WIS' sports anchor and reporter Joe Gorchow was on the scene when the shots were fired and he described it as being in a war zone.
Officials confirmed that eight people, four women and four men, were injured the shooting. Their ages range from 22 years old to 52 years old.
Chief Holbrook said several cars were involved in the shooting. Officers have located two and are still searching for two additional cars. CPD released surveillance images of the two cars they are calling "vehicles of interest."
The Empire Supper Club has been declared a public nuisance and their business license has been revoked. Holbrook said officers have had other issues with the club.
Chief Holbrook said investigators have not confirmed if the shooting was gang related. It is believed that there were multiple handguns fired by multiple suspects. Holbrook said the shooting was not random nor was it an act of terrorism. He said the suspects knew each other and the shooting was intentional.
CPD announced the arrest of four men who were arrested in connection with this shooting. They will appear in court on Sunday.
In a statement released Saturday afternoon, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin denounced the violence in the Vista.
"We are thankful for our men and women in law enforcement. Our businesses are open, and we are not going to let some outside troublemakers define who we are to our guests. We continue to pray for all of the innocent souls and families hurt last night," Mayor Benjamin said. "The Columbia Police Department (CPD), Richland County Sheriff's Department, Federal, and state law enforcement agencies continue to investigate this matter. All of those responsible for these crimes will be brought to justice."
Meanwhile, if you know anything that can help investigators, you are urged to contact Crimestoppers in any of the following ways:
PHONE: Call 1-888-CRIME SC (888-274-6372)
TEXT: TIPSC plus your tip info to CRIMES (274637)
ONLINE: www.midlandscrimestoppers.com and email a tip.
Your identity will be kept anonymous, and if your tip leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.