Fort Myers Shooting Leaves Two Dead, 18 Wounded
One of three men arrested shortly after the Club Blu mass shooting in Fort Myers was in court Tuesday.
Demetrius O’Neal appeared with his lawyer to plead not guilty to one count of resisting arrest. It is a misdemeanor charge.
O’Neal, Tajze Battle and Derrick Church were arrested the night of the shooting. Court documents say police received a call roughly a half hour after the shooting about a suspicious vehicle that was "unloading an injured party near a dumpster" in a nearby apartment complex.
Police responded to the call and tried to pull over a vehicle that resembled the description. Church was allegedly driving and fled. A Lee County Sheriff's Office deputy eventually used a maneuver with his car to force Church's car to stop.
O'Neal and Battle allegedly fled, and were eventually apprehended.
The deputy was out of his car and ready to chase the two when Church "accelerated and drove the vehicle directly at the LCSO deputy." The deputy shot Church in the abdomen and Church stopped the car.
He was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital that night, treated and released.
Battle is also charged with resisting arrest. He has pled not guilty.
Church is charged with resisting arrest and aggravated assault of an officer. Both are felonies. Church will be arraigned later this month.
A Lehigh Acres woman has been arrested in connection with the Club Blu shootings. Jazmin Barron was arrested and charged with making false statements in records kept by a federal firearms licensee.
A press release by the United States Department of Justice said Barron allegedly lied about where she was living when she purchased a firearm in February.
That weapon was later recovered near Club Blu in Fort Myers, shortly after two people were killed and about 18 injured in a shooting that took place in the club's parking lot. Barron faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.
Three people are in custody, so far, in connection with a shooting that left two people dead and 18 wounded at a local club for teenagers and at a Fort Myers residence.
The Fort Myers Police Department reports the two victims who have died as a result of their injuries include 14-year-old Sean Archilles and 18-year-old Stef'an Strawder. Strawder was about to enter his senior year at Lehigh Acres High School.
The shooting happened at the parking lot of Club Blu in Fort Myers. Police responded at about 12:30 am, where they found several people suffering from gunshot wounds—some minor and some life-threatening.
Club Blu said in a Facebook post that it had hosted an event for middle school and high school students. They said it was a safe place for kids ages 12 to 17 with security inside and out. The shooting happened as the club was closing and parents were picking up their children.
The victims are reported to be between 12 and 27 years old. Most of them were treated at Lee Memorial hospital with one patient taken to Cape Coral Hospital, one to Gulf Coast Medical Center and one possibly taken to Healthpark Hospital.
Three patients remain at Lee Memorial hospital with one in fair condition and two in critical condition in the ICU. At a press conference this morning, Lee Memorial Health System Trauma Surgeon Dr. Drew Mikulaschek confirms patients were treated for gunshot wounds.
"I’ve seen worse, but for it to be in our community, I think everybody feels a little bit of shock,” said Dr. Mikulaschek. “This is not something we’re used to. We do have our own little knife and gun club; not in this type of volume. I’ve been here for now 17 years and in terms of gunshot wound victims, this is the worst I’ve even seen.”
The Fort Myers Police Department says many of the victims who were taken to the hospital or sought treatment on their own were discharged before law enforcement had an opportunity to interview them. Those patients are encouraged to contact the FMPD, as they may have information to help the investigation.
Health system officials characterize the shooting as a trauma alert, but not a mass causality incident.
Jermaine Wilson lives near the club. He said when he got home last night, he saw people running away from the club as police were arriving.
Wilson said he walked over there in the aftermath and saw one man on the ground and a girl who was shot in the leg. He describes the scene as "chaos."
"It's crazy. You can't let your kids go anywhere," he said. "I don't think there should be kids 12 years old in a club like this anyway."
Fort Myers Police Department said in a press release this shooting is linked to another shooting at a local residence. Only one victim was wounded there.
FMPD said Ortiz Avenue is safe at this time, but the roadway will remained closed as the investigation continues. Evans Avenue was closed between Carrell Road and Winkler Ave, but is now open to traffic.
The Fort Myers Police Department said in press release they’re canvassing the area for anyone who may have involved.
Governor Rick Scott released a statement this morning stating he’s spoken with Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and Fort Myers Interim Police Chief Dennis Eads and is offering state assistance.
Scott has canceled his scheduled events today and is heading to Fort Myers at this time. The statement from the Governor’s office reads, “While we are still learning the details about what happened this morning, we know that some of the victims of this terrible incident were children. We will continue to pray for the victims and their families.”
Anyone with information regarding the case is encouraged to contact the Fort Myers Police Department at 239-321-7700. Tipsters can also contact Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS or text C-R-I-M-E-S (274637) with keyword FMPD. Tipsters can remain anonymous.