FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Five people were shot shortly before dawn Friday at a small nightclub in the Lauderdale Manor Shopping Center, police said.
According to Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. Frank Sousa, police were called to 1937 NW 9th Ave. after a report of gunshots fired at 5:42 a.m. When patrol cars arrived, they found "people scattering everywhere," Sousa said.
The victims identified by police are Rodney Robinson, 30, of Pembroke Pines; Jeronald Fiddemon, 33, of Fort Lauderdale; Ruben Franscique, 29, of Hollywood; Bernie Jean, 26, of North Lauderdale and Kimberley Olive, 22, of Miami-Dade County.
The gunfire began inside a club that has no name and moved outdoors to the parking lot, Sousa said. Three to five suspects are being sought by police.
The five victims were being treated at three area hospitals Friday and their wounds ranged from life-threatening to non-life-threatening, according to police.
Glass from the storefront's door and one window was broken out. Bullet holes pierced two other windows of the club that has previously been known as The Wiz and B.W.I.
The location, which does not have a business sign to identify it, is owned by BWI Incorporated and was leased by a promoter for a reggae party on Thursday night, Sousa said.
There were no shooting victims at the scene when police arrived.
"They all either went home or drove themselves to the hospital," Sousa said.
That included one man who collapsed in his shower at home and is currently at Broward General Hospital in critical condition, according to police.
Sousa said it was the first time in his 11 years as a police officer that he could recall five people getting shot during the same incident.
The shootings happened adjacent to Rent Right/Buy Right, a housing rental and tax preparation business owned by Serge Ferrer. He said he learned about the incident in a phone call from an employee.
"Nobody from my staff is hurt, thank God," Ferrer said.
Ferrer said the L-shaped mall where the shooting took place is usually very quiet, and that a state Division of Driver Licenses office draws most of the customers.
Friday morning, that location remained closed behind crime scene tape. Driver's license applicants were directed to a motor vehicles office at Oakland Park Boulevard and 441.
A tenant at the mall who said he had been shown the club location by a Realtor described it as a "storefront party room" with few amenities.
One woman who talked with police and did not want her name used said the place was known "for the party."
When asked to describe what happened, she said, "the music was playing, I saw the crowd move and I dropped to the floor."
Two hours after the shootings and as the morning grew hotter, a young woman, dressed in a red mini-dress and silver sandals, stood behind yellow crime scene tape after talking with police.
She also did not want to reveal her name but said people were dancing to reggae music at the party that had a $10 admission price.
When the shooting started, "A lot lost their phones and purses," she said. "Everybody was [either] on the floor or ran out the back."
Detectives also interviewed three men dressed in black, including one with "SECURITY" written on the back of his T-shirt.
Sousa said nightclubs in Fort Lauderdale are supposed to close at 2 a.m. unless they have a special license to remain open until 4 a.m. City code officials will be looking into the location and whether it was licensed, he said.
At 9 a.m., more than three hours after the incident, the shopping center's parking lot on the west side of Northwest 9th Avenue remained an active crime scene.
Police photographed where technicians had laid out 17 triangular yellow markers for the bullet casings and other evidence that fell to the ground.
The number of shots fired and type of weapons used is not yet clear, according to police.
Sousa said shortly after the shooting, investigators received a tip about a Nissan Altima that was stopped at I-95 and I-595, and that the driver has been interviewed. His connection to the shooting was not immediately known, he said.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact Fort Lauderdale Police Det. Jason Wood at 954-828-5344 or Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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