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Police seek witnesses in Tenn. nightclub shooting

Associated Press

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) – Police gathered clues from surveillance video, social media websites and witnesses Monday as they sought to identify those responsible for a weekend shooting at a Tennessee nightclub that left a college student dead and 20 other partygoers hurt.

Investigators believe at least three people fired handguns early Sunday at the Karma Lounge in Jackson.

The shooting followed several fights at the club, the venue for a party that followed a basketball game Saturday night between two private colleges in Tennessee, said Lt. Tyreece Miller, a Jackson Police Department spokesman.

The shooting killed 19-year-old LeCarlos Todd of Memphis. Miller said Todd was a student, but police didn’t identify the college he attended. Eighteen other people were shot and two more were trampled as club patrons frantically scrambled to get away.

About 20 Jackson police officers went to the club afterward and Miller described the scene as chaotic. One officer even drove an ambulance because emergency personnel were too busy treating the wounded, the spokesman added. Police recovered 48 shoes, mostly women’s high heels, which were left behind as people ran.

“It was pretty overwhelming,” Miller said.

The party followed a basketball game Saturday night between Lane College and LeMoyne Owen College, both historically black institutions.

Lane College, in Jackson, has about 2,200 students; LeMoyne-Owen has about 850 students and is located in Memphis. The event was not sponsored or sanctioned by either school. Those who were hurt included students from both schools.

After the shooting, 30-year-old Travis Steed, of Jackson, was airlifted to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis. A nursing supervisor said Steed’s condition had improved from critical to serious Monday.

Police said they expected to interview Steed once his condition improves. “Certainly he has information that can break everything open,” Miller said.

Authorities were seeking witnesses and anyone who took photos as they worked to identify the shooter or shooters. Miller said investigators don’t have a good description of suspects, partly because surveillance video footage was poor.

Police said they were trying to determine why the fights escalated to gunfire.

“Someone may have seen something that they think is insignificant and they’re reluctant to call the police because they think maybe that, `My information won’t matter,'” Miller said. “But that’s not the case.”

Police had been searching for two people who investigators believed were close to the shooting. One of the witnesses has spoken with police and provided information, but the witness is not in custody and is not considered a suspect, Miller said. The second witness has yet to come forward.

City Attorney Lewis Cobb said Jackson officials plan to ask a judge to declare the business a public nuisance and order it closed down.

The front door of the club was locked and no one answered the door Monday. Telephone numbers listed for the club rang busy and the AP was unable to contact an attorney for the owner.

Shooting victims were taken to hospitals by ambulances and private vehicles. A 17-year-old Memphis girl was treated and released from Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and a 20-year-old Millington woman was treated and released from Regional Hospital in Jackson after they had been trampled.

Jackson is a city of about 65,000 people located about 75 miles east-northeast of Memphis.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)