Tempe Police Arrest Suspect in Clubhouse Shooting, Will Also Investigate Music Venue Itself
Lieutenant Mike Horn of the Tempe Police Department briefs the media on last night's shooting at the Clubhouse Music Venue.
According to Lieutenant Mike Horn, who briefed the media this afternoon, an unidentified male was taken into custody near the Tempe club in the hours after the incident occurred on Friday evening. Two African-American male suspects are still being sought for questioning.
Horn says three suspects opened fire about 11:30 p.m. amid a crowd of around 300 people attempting to get into the Clubhouse for a concert by rapper Nipsey Hussle. The shooting is believed to be gang related and was sparked by an altercation between members of rival Phoenix crews. Fourteen people were wounded, including two in serious but stable condition and one who came forward for treatment this afternoon.
Horn also says police and City of Tempe officials are investigating whether the Clubhouse had proper security measures in place for the hip-hop event.
Crime scene tape closing off the parking lot of the Clubhouse Music Venue in Tempe.
"Part of this investigation we will be looking at whether or not these measures were being followed last night," he says.
Horn stated that prior incidents have occurred outside the Clubhouse, citing a gang-related shooting in July 2007 and a number of other disturbances, fights, and incidents that have cased police to be summoned to the location in the past few years. (A stabbing also took place near the venue in 2009.)
"We make it very clear to them that you need to know who you're bringing in," Horn says. "And if you're bringing in an act that, [for] whatever reason, violence tends to follow them, then you need to put particular measures in place to protect the act and then also people that will be attending the event."
Local promoter Force Focus Entertainment, which has previously brought in such hip-hop stars as Yung Berg to Valley venues, put on the concert. Horn says there are reports that some in attendance at last night's show refused a pat down by security but weren't asked to leave.
"We're still following up on that, and that's just general information right now that we're looking into, but obviously that causes us some great concern," he says.
Calls to both Force Focus Entertainment and the Clubhouse's management have not been returned as of this writing.
West Coast rapper Nipsey Hussle
Horn also mentioned that Hussle (a West Coast rapper who's openly admitted to being a member of the Rolling Sixty Crips in Los Angeles) has been involved in prior shootings, including being arrested last year by the L.A.P.D. after an altercation with his then-manager that involved gunfire.
Hussle hadn't arrived at the venue when the shooting occurred. According to a statement posted to his Tumblr within the last hour in reaction to shooting and expressing his "deepest thoughts and sympathies" to the victims, the rapper says he was in his hotel room at the time of the shooting.
Hussle also stated that he "strongly oppose(s) gun violence" and that hip-hop or his music shouldn't be blamed as the cause of the incident.
"Many people will wrongfully attribute this incident to the hip-hop culture, which is purely and simply false. The alleged shooters were not ticket holders for my performance," he wrote.
While Hussle was hanging out in his hotel, local rapper Joseph Brown was onstage with other hip-hop artists hyping up the crowd and getting ready to perform when guns started to go off. Then, he says, chaos erupted both inside and outside the Clubhouse.
"I thought it was just the music that was playing on the speakers and the shots ringing out were part of it," says Brown, who performs as Just Joe. "But then I looked to the side and everybody was just rushing the club and I thought someone was coming into the club with a gun. And then everybody hit the floor and everything. And after that, it was mayhem. It was crazy."
When he stepped outside, however, he says the sidewalk outside the Clubhouse looked "like a scene out of a war zone."
"It looked like something out of Iraq, honestly. There was probably four people laid out on the ground over there. Ambulances all over the place, police all over the place," Brown says. "One moment everything was good, man, and the next moment everything shifted to wild. It just shows how much guns can ruin a person's night."
Bloodstains and concert detritus that was located outside the Clubhouse Music Venue as of this morning.
Erin Wozniak, who was selling tickets and running the door at the show, says she heard at least 20 gunshots taking place. Her boyfriend, a member of Force Focus Entertainment (whom she declined to name), grabbed both her and the money and ran inside the Clubhouse.
"Once there was a [gunshot] everybody went down," she says. "Everybody sorta like collapsed and was running I couldn't get in because the table was in front of me. My boyfriend moved it and we went inside, everybody was trying to get in."
Horn says the three gunmen left the scene on foot amid the chaos. Tempe Police officers closed of the parking lot and parts of Broadway Road in front of the venue as ambulances transported the wounded to nearby hospitals.
The Clubhouse's exterior still looked like a war zone after officers released the scene this morning. A mess of fliers for upcoming local hip-hop shows, unused wristbands, and empty beer bottles and cans littered the area. There were at least two patches of dried blood on the sidewalk outside.
Things have been cleaned up as of this afternoon as the venue is scheduled to host a CD release show by local rock band Sleepwalker. But depending on the outcome of the Tempe Police Department's investigation, there's a possibility that concerts at the Clubhouse could eventually become history. Especially if it's determined that insufficient security was in place during the last night's show.
"The fact of the matter is [that] we can't do it all and the business has the responsibility take some steps to also protect the public safety and we're going to be very active to ensure that everything was done last night to ensure that," Horn says. "And if that's not the case, I'm certain the city will take whatever action they can."
When asked if that included shutting down the Clubhouse as a possible consequence, Horn stated that "there's a number of different options on the table."
Horn asked that anyone with information regarding the shooting should contact Tempe Police at 480-350-8311 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.