LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Nineteen people who survived a shooting last year at a Little Rock nightclub filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the club’s owners, alleging negligence in security and in staff training.
At a press conference, two survivors and their lawyers said they believed Herman Lewis, who managed the Power Ultra Lounge, and the property owners should have taken more steps to protect patrons before the shooting.
In July 2017, 25 people were shot and three others injured when dozens of rounds were fired during a performance by Tennessee rapper Finese2Tymes, whose real name is Ricky Hampton. At least three suspects have been arrested in the shooting.
The lawsuit alleged Lewis and the property owners should have had tighter security and better crowd control, and said the club was negligent in allowing patrons to bring in guns. The suit also said staff should have been trained to handle the shooting through proper emergency drills.
Victims said they suffered various physical injuries and emotional trauma. Tasheara Slocum, who said she was shot in the side, hoped that the lawsuit would “send a message” to businesses that they should “do everything possible to protect their customers.”
Another survivor, Tyrone Jackson, and his younger brother were at the club to perform earlier in the night and said the crowd seemed rowdier than usual. Jackson said he was not physically injured but claimed he suffered emotional trauma from the shooting.
He also said a history of violence in and around the club should have better prepared the owners and staff.
“While luckily no one was killed at the Power Ultra Lounge that terrible night, I believe Mr. Lewis and anyone else involved in owning and operating of the club should be held accountable for what happened that night,” Jackson said.
Solomon Radner, one of the lawyers representing the victims, said the event’s promotional material promoted violence. Specifically, he said, a poster for Hampton’s performance featured a man pointing what appeared to be a gun at the camera.
“This was something that was promoted for violence,” Radner said. “If you’re going to do that, you have to provide adequate security.”
Hampton and his bodyguard, Kentrell Gwynn, have both pleaded guilty to unrelated federal charges . Gwynn also face charges from the state for the shooting. Hampton is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 6, while Gwynn’s sentencing date has not been set.
Two previous lawsuits from survivors have been filed against Lewis and the property owner, 6th and Center LLC, though one was dropped last October. The plaintiff in that lawsuit is now one of the 19 people currently suing Lewis, while the other lawsuit remains separate and ongoing.
Neither Lewis nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.