Two killed, 22 injured in shooting at Florida nightclub

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 10, 2011 4:08 PM
Two killed, 22 injured in shooting at Florida nightclub

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - At least two gunmen armed with possible semi-automatic weapons opened fire outside a Florida nightclub early Saturday morning, killing two people and injuring 22, according to police.

A witness described panic and chaos inside the Club Elite in the town of Palmetto south of Tampa.

"I was on the floor trying not to die," said Chip "Blu Chip" Hunt, a promoter who works with the club management. "I was between one who got shot in the back of the head and one that got killed and one gentleman that got Bayflighted (airlifted) out."

Killed were Gwenette Matthews, 38, of Bradenton, and Trayon Goff, 25, of Palmetto, according to Palmetto police spokesman Scott Tyler.

Tyler said the shooters were outside the club, but some bullets passed through the nightclub's open front door. Police believe at least one of the shooters was on foot and disappeared in a getaway car.

Hunt, who promoted the club's Friday night "Grown & Sexy" event, said Matthew was socializing inside the club with her sister and was killed by a bullet that came through the front door.

Hunt said the torrent of bullets seemed to be aimed at Goff who was outside, sitting up against the front wall of the building.

"The wall is like Swiss cheese," said Hunt. "He had so many wounds it was crazy. He got 75 percent of the shots. That's the one they was after."

Hunt estimated 150 people were inside the club. Hunt said a security guard, who he said was hit in the back by one bullet, made sure every patron was at least 25 years old and dressed up for the special event.

Hunt said Goff was in a group of younger people who had gathered outside the club. Of those, "he was the only one that got shot (critically). I don't know if he tried to run and that's why the bullets came inside the club," Hunt said.

Tyler said investigators have not yet named suspects or identified a target or motive.

Tyler said most victims were treated and released. Six people were flown to a trauma center in St. Petersburg and one remains in very critical condition, he said.

(Editing by Greg McCune)