A shooting outside a Fort Myers, Florida, nightclub hosting a swimsuit-themed party for teens left two teens dead and 17 people wounded early Monday, authorities said.
It was not immediately clear what triggered the violence, but Fort Myers police Capt. Jim Mulligan said the shooting was not an act of terror. Police detained three people and were searching for others but said the area around Club Blu had been deemed safe, officials said.
The two teens killed were 14-year-old Sean Archilles and 18-year-old Stef'an Strawder, police said. Archilles lived about a mile from the nightclub, according to his father, Jean Archilles.
"He liked to make people laugh. He's a funny kid. He's always joking," Jean Archilles said.
He said he doesn't wish bad for the shooter.
"When he lays down in his bed, how is he feeling about what he did? A 14-year-old kid!" Archilles said. "Is he thinking about his family, his friends? Because everybody has family and friends. Does he feel good about himself?"
Authorities said in a statement, "the investigation is still very active as is the crime scene" and that investigators are working todetermine a motive.
Lee Memorial Health System CEO Lisa Sgarlata said four people remain hospitalized; two people are in critical condition, and two are in fair condition. Officials said earlier that the others wounded were treated and released Monday morning.
The patients' ages ranged from 12 to 27, Garn said.
"This is not something we're used to — not in this type of volume by any stretch," said Lee Memorial trauma surgeon Dr. Andrew W. Mikulaschek. "I have been here 17 years ... in terms of gunshot wound victims, this is the worse I've ever seen."
Police said they want to talk to some of the victims who were treated and released from the hospital and haven't yet spoken with investigators.
"It is imperative that all persons who were involved with this incident, come forward so that this incident can be properly documented and statements obtained from all involved," Mulligan said.
The shooting apparently occurred at a teen party, billed as a "Swimsuit Glow Party," according to a poster circulated online.
Jermaine Wilson told The New York Times the parking lot had been filled with cars as the teenagers were leaving the club. He heard gunfire erupt and saw a person lying on the ground, bleeding, he said.
“I saw everybody running,” Wilson, 32, told the Times. He added that "a bunch of people were screaming names."
Club Blu said in a Facebook post written early Monday, and later deleted, that the party was a “middle school/high school event." It said the shooting happened after the party had ended and teenagers were leaving the club.
“There were older staff present as well as family members picking up teens,” the club said.
In a new message, posted around 7:20 a.m., the club said: "We are deeply sorry for all involved. We tried to give the teens WHAT WE THOUGHT WAS A SAFE PLACE TO HAVE A GOOD TIME. Ages 12-17. There was armed security as well as full security, inside and out."
The club said, "It was not kids at the party that did this despicable act."
The club, about 120 miles from Miami, is in a strip mall that includes a daycare center and is across the street from a large apartment complex.
Law enforcement removed some of police tape by Monday morning, allowing the media and public to get closer to the entrance to Club Blu.
There were bullet holes in concrete planters and wooden support beams. Sheriff's evidence markers were still affixed to the holes. The letter "A'' was attached near a post, while nearby "L," ''M," ''N" and "O'' we're marked near a planter filled with scraggly foliage.
"It breaks my heart. No family should have to endure this kind of pain," said Sylvia Bargouthi, a mother who didn't know any of the victims. "Children should be able to enjoy their life without being brutally murdered."
Bargouthi carried a small stuffed animal with her and placed it near the club's entrance.
State records online show the alcohol license for Club Blu was revoked June 7. The records from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation say the license was revoked because of an incident that occurred a year ago, but there are no additional details available. The same records also show that a complaint was filed in 2014 for "criminal activity" and that the club was given an official notice.
Local police responded to the scene around 12:30 a.m. and found multiple people with gunshot wounds ranging from minor to life-threatening.
Sixteen victims were transported to Lee Memorial Hospital. Another victim was taken to Cape Coral Hospital. Officials said several others left the scene on their own to seek medical attention.
Another person was found injured five blocks away from the nightclub, police said, NBC News reported.
There were two active crime scenes — the club and a street in the area, which also remained closed as police investigated.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott canceled his scheduled events for the day to meet with officials in Fort Myers.
In a statement, Scott said he's spoken with Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and Ft. Myers Interim Police Chief Dennis Eads to offer any assistance from the state.
"It's horrible when these things happen," Gov. Scott said at an afternoon news conference. He noted that the state is currently seeing a 45-year low in the crime rate.
Scott said they will continue to pray for the victims and their families.
The shooting comes more than a month after a nightclub shooting in Orlando that was the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history. The shooting at the Pulse nightclub on June 12 left 49 victims dead and 53 others wounded.