Clubgoers screamed and scrambled for cover as dozens of gun shots rang out during a rap concert in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, leaving 28 people injured from an 11-second melee that police said may be gang-related.
Several others were injured attempting to escape, with reports that some jumped from second-storey windows at the Power Ultra Lounge.
Two people were still in critical condition, according to police.
"When you force these two communities into a small room and some kind of dispute ensues, it was a recipe for disaster," Police Chief Kenton Buckner told reporters at a news conference.
It was the second major US shooting incident in two days, after a doctor angry that his career was derailed at a New York hospital toted an assault rifle past security in search of a colleague he was going to hold responsible. When that person wasn't there, he still opened fire, killing a doctor.
In Little Rock, Mayor Mark Stodola told reporters the Power Ultra Lounge would be shut down for unspecific violations. "We're going to be extra vigilant with the people walking the streets with guns," he added.
The police department was trying to find multiple suspected shooters, as well as the rapper who was performing at the club, Ricky Hampton of Memphis, who police said had arrest warrants related to violence at his shows in other cities.
Police did not say what sort of gang dispute was suspected in the incident.
Buckner said it could have been related to about a dozen drive-by shootings that took place in Little Rock the previous week. He also told reporters he was aware of a long-standing feud between groups in Little Rock and Memphis.
Hampton, who goes by the stage name Finese 2Tymes, was performing in Memphis in April when a shooting erupted there, according to WMC Action News 5 - although no injuries were reported that time.
The rapper referred to the violence in the lyrics of a music video posted last month: "I had a shootout at my show. It made the news!" People packed shoulder-to-shoulder into the lounge, as seen in Facebook Live video from the concert, which Hampton advertised on social media with a photograph looking down a gun barrel.
Two off-duty police officers were working the parking lot, Buckner said. Shortly before they went home, the chief said, the officers refused entry to a group of people, one of whom openly carried a gun.
Somehow, the chief said, those people found another way in. About half an hour later, he said, "some sort of dispute ensued in the audience." Hampton was onstage then on a break between sets, as seen in attendee Darryl Rankin's Facebook video from the audience.
"What are you all doing today?" a man asks a few seconds before more than two dozen shots ring out in rapid succession. Rankin's screen goes dark as people scream and attend to the injured.
Courtney Swanigan told Arkansas Online she saw a handgun onstage during the melee. "I just closed my eyes, got down on the ground and put my hands on my head," she said.
The youngest victim was a 16-year-old boy. His family told a Fox 16 reporter he might never walk again, In total, 28 people were injured, including three hurt in the chaotic escape.
- Washington Post, AP