YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A man has been killed and two others wounded in a shooting at a South Side nightclub just after 1:30 a.m. Saturday where shots were still being fired as police made their way inside the building.
Chief of Detectives Capt. Rod Foley said the officers who responded to Utopia, an LGTBQ+ nightclub in the 800 block of East Midlothian Boulevard, were not fired upon and the officers never fired their weapons.
“We never fired at anybody,” Foley said.
Police say there is no indication this was a hate crime.
Youngstown Police say when officers first arrived at the scene, someone in the crowd was still shooting as they entered the building. They said when they got inside the bar, they were unable to find who had been firing the weapon.
“There was some officers that were nearby. They heard the gunfire and responded, and as they were making their way through the front door — people were chaotic leaving the front door, and officers heard at least two or three more shots fired,” Foley said.
Police say there were several hundred people in the building when the shooting started.
Besides the 27-year-old man who was killed, a 20-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman were both wounded and are being treated at St. Elizabeth Health Center. Foley said he did not know how serious their wounds are, but he said detectives are at the hospital to try and interview them.
Foley said he was not sure if anyone else was hit. There were at least six ambulances at the scene.
Police from all over the Valley also came to assist with crowd control. Austintown, Struthers, Boardman, Youngstown State University and Ohio State Highway Patrol were on scene.
“I assume they called a Signal 12, which would be all agencies responding,” Foley said.
According to the event ticketing website, EventBrite.com, a “Ghetto Boy Welcome Home Tour” concert featuring the Detroit-area rapper, Peezy, was scheduled Friday night at Utopia.
All of the gunfire happened inside the bar, although there was an evidence marker by the front door marking a spot of blood. Detectives were inside the building for several hours watching video and searching for other evidence.
A video posted on Facebook from the bar shows police with flashlights going through the bar, ordering patrons to sit on the floor. The scene appears chaotic, with multiple people yelling as officers yell orders to the crowd.
The woman who took the video sent it in to share her experience after police arrived on scene. You can watch the full video above.
The floor is littered with trash, empty cups and dollar bills, and tables are turned over. The body of a man is laying on the floor.
Foley said he did not want to answer when asked if a gun was recovered inside the bar.
The crime scene is very large and detectives will be spending a lot of time there, Foley said.
“There’s a lot to process,” Foley said.
Some patrons were walking out of the bar piecemeal, shivering in the cold. One person was escorted in with a police officer, saying he didn’t want to be there because his friend was killed.
A man wandered around the parking lot talking on a cell phone shivering against the cold, telling someone that several people were shot inside the bar
A reporter tried to talk to the man, but just before he answered a question, a woman on the other end of the phone said, “Don’t say nothing.” The man said, “Respect,” and walked away.
Our digital reporter Joe Gorman was on scene as people were leaving.
“I was struck by the number of people coming out of the bar. They were putting them in cruisers to take downtown to question them. None of them had jackets. How cold it was. They were shivering,” Gorman said.
Officers in the area heard gunfire and were able to respond quickly, Foley said. Police do not yet have a suspect or a motive, and detectives are not sure if more than one person inside fired a gun, Foley said.
Police say they anticipate it will take “several days” to process all of the evidence at the scene.
“It’s a very large bar with a lot of rooms. There’s a lot of debris in there from people just hitting the floor, dropping everything they had on them,” Foley said.
So far this year, 22 people have been shot in the city, seven fatally. Last year at this time, the city had nine homicides. A total of 17 people were shot at this time last year.
This is the second shooting with three victims this year. On March 4, one person was killed and two wounded after shots were fired outside a bar at East Lucius and South avenues.
Those with information on the shooting are asked to call 330-746-CLUE or 330-742-8YPD. Tipsters can remain anonymous. Police said those who provide information that leads to an arrest and conviction will be eligible for a cash reward.