Little Rock Mass Shooting Likely Gang Related, No Suspects Yet

Jul 1, 2017
Originally published on July 3, 2017 12:38 pm

The city of Little Rock and its police force are asking the community for help finding those responsible for a mass shooting downtown today at Power Ultra Lounge, 220 W. 6th St, at about 2 a.m.

At last report, 28 people were injured in the incident, 25 directly from gunfire.

"We have a number of different avenues for people to come forward [with information], anonymous avenues," Buckner said. "You have to get engaged to help us help you, because without information, sometimes, we kind of run around chasing our tails. As we can see in our community, many of our high profile arrests have been gained as a result of the community giving us information."

At a Saturday afternoon press conference, police Chief Kenton Buckner said police had no suspects or persons of interest but he felt comfortable characterizing it as a gang fight.  

“We believe this potentially involved gang activity. I’m not a chief that walks back from that phrase or tries to pretend we don’t have that issue. Because you insult intelligent people when you do that.”

The hip-hop show at Power Friday night featured Memphis artist Finese 2 Tymes, aka Ricky Hampton, who has an outstanding warrant for his arrest out of Forrest City. Buckner said there’s no indication that Hampton participated in the violence, and he couldn’t say whether the violence was between Little Rock gangs or gangs from Memphis and Little Rock.

Buckner said despite the artist's self-promotion, including a concert poster featuring him pointing an automatic weapon at the viewer, he hoped people would not rush to accuse the musical genre, or those there to see the show, with "a broad brush."

"I'm a fan of hip hop. ... I don't want to broad brush that genre of music. I don't want to broad brush everyone who was in that venue because most of the people who were in there had nothing to do with the conflict. They happened to be true victims of stupidity."

But Mayor Mark Stodola, when he took the lectern, did seem to yoke both the audience and the assailants together as criminal.

"I personally advocate for some stronger laws on the state level as it relates particularly to felons in possession of firearms, and I will predict for you that once we get this information you're going to find out that a lot of the people, both victims and suspects, have prior criminal records and probably are on probation or parole."

Stodola said the city will seek assistance from federal agencies, but the community is expected to do its part.

“Again, we’re calling on the community, to let us know who’s involved in these cases. We’ve got to have that information.” 

Buckner said roughly 20-40 shots were fired in the club. Both he and the mayor were asked to consider the incident within the larger debate on gun control. While Stodola said the problem is criminals with guns, Buckner said state policy makers should look at what they've done so far and weigh its effect.

"While I think that most people respect and appreciate the Second Amendment, I think that we can do so by being responsible in how we apply that, but I think that that's something that all of our elected officials have to take a look at to see if what we're doing, are we getting the kind of outcomes that we want?"

He did say that House bill 1249 that expands Arkansans rights to carry concealed weapons referenced in the question put to him clearly doesn't have anything to do with the incident. 

Buckner said the department is interviewing witnesses and victims. The entire Violent Crime Apprehension Team will be mobilized for the investigation. Meanwhile, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control division pulled Power’s liquor license, and Stodola said the city will be shutting the location down.

"This activity downtown is going to cease."

This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media. What's that? APM is a nonprofit journalism project for all of Arkansas and a collaboration among public media in the state. We're funded in part through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the support of partner stations KUAR, KUAF, KASU and KTXK. And, we hope, from you! You can learn more and support Arkansas Public Media's reporting at arkansaspublicmedia.org. Arkansas Public Media is Natural State news with context.

Copyright 2017 Arkansas Public Media. To see more, visit Arkansas Public Media.