Two still critical as Florida nightclub shooting investigated

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 26, 2016 11:44 AM

By Letitia Stein

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - Three men arrested after fleeing from authorities near the scene a nightclub shooting where two teenagers were killed are persons of interest in the investigation and could see further charges, authorities said on Tuesday.

The shooting on Monday in the parking lot of Club Blu, where more than a dozen people also were wounded, came six weeks after 49 people were killed at an Orlando nightclub by a man who sympathized with Islamic extremists groups.

Police in Fort Myers, located on Florida's Gulf Coast, said terrorism was not a factor in the Club Blu shooting but have not detailed a possible motive. Two people remained hospitalized in critical condition on Tuesday, hospital officials said.

The shooting took place shortly after 12:30 a.m. EDT (0430 GMT) on Monday as a party open to teenagers was wrapping up.

No one has been charged in the shooting but authorities arrested three young men seen near the scene who fled from them. They were charged in connection with that pursuit, the Lee County Sheriff's Office said on Monday.

According to the agency, Derrick Church, 19, was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer after accelerating his vehicle toward a sheriff's deputy. A deputy shot him in the stomach and he was treated and released from a hospital.

Demetrius O'Neal, 19, and Tajze Battle, 22, were charged with resisting law enforcement, according to a statement from the sheriff's office.

The men are considered persons of interest in the shooting, and Fort Myers police are investigating to determine if additional charges will be brought, Sergeant Matt McDaniel, a sheriff's spokesman, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

"At this time we have no updates regarding this active investigation," the Fort Myers Police Department said in an email, responding to a request for additional information.

Police said on Monday they were searching for additional suspects in connection with the shooting.

Stef'An Strawder, 18, a high school basketball star, and Sean Archilles, 14, were killed in the incident. At least 19 people, ranging in age from 12- to 27-years-old, were wounded and treated at local hospitals.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Writing by Laila Kearney; Editing by Bill Trott)