Little Rock club performer faces weapons charge
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A rapper shot someone in the neck days before performing at a concert in Little Rock that was the site of a shooting that left 28 people injured, federal prosecutors said Monday.
U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Paulette Chappelle said Ricky Hampton, also known as Finese2Tymes, screamed at a person he believed was blocking his way on June 25 as Hampton was trying to leave Club Envy in Forrest City, Arkansas.
Chappelle said the Memphis, Tennessee, rapper entered his vehicle and continued screaming at the person, who was driving another vehicle before firing an “AK-style pistol,” shattering the rear window and striking the person in the neck.
Then Saturday, a shooting at Little Rock’s Power Ultra Lounge where Hampton was performing left 28 people hurt.
Hampton was arrested about 24 hours later in Alabama on outstanding charges of aggravated assault with a gun out of Forrest City in eastern Arkansas, the U.S. Marshals Service said.
Cliff LaBarge with the U.S. Marshals Service in Alabama said two handguns and an assault rifle were seized from the Mercedes in which Hampton and another man were riding at the time of their early Sunday arrest. Hampton was about to perform at an Alabama club when he was taken into custody.
According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas, a complaint has been filed against Hampton for being a felon in the possession of firearms. He remained in jail without bond Monday morning in Birmingham.
In 911 calls from the Little Rock shooting that were released to The Associated Press on Monday through an open records request, the scene sounds panicked and chaotic after shots were fired inside the nightclub. More than a dozen people called 911 after the shooting, and screams could be heard in the background in some calls.
No one could identify the shooter when asked by 911 operators. When asked if she saw the shooter, one woman replied: “No, I was at the back of the club but I know the rappers that came in, they had guns.”
The volley of gunfire inside the Power Ultra Lounge came so fast that investigators believe multiple people had to have been involved. Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner credited quick work by first responders for there being no fatalities.
Little Rock police said in a statement Monday that they have interviewed Hampton in Alabama, and that the investigation is ongoing.
A message posted on the rapper’s Facebook page Saturday offered thoughts and prayers for those injured: “THE VIOLENCE IS NOT FOR THE CLUB PEOPLE. WE ALL COME WITH 1 MOTIVE AT THE END OF THE DAY, AND THATS TO HAVE FUN.”
Ronald L. Davis Jr., an attorney representing Power Ultra Lounge owner Herman Lewis, said security must not have followed protocol and that hired security guards are supposed to check everyone who enters the venue by hand and with magnetic wands.
Police in Little Rock have released reports from 33 times they’ve responded to the club’s address since April 2016, including for complaints of shots fired, aggravated assault and theft.
City officials said they would move Monday to shut down the club under a “criminal abatement” program. State regulators suspended the club’s liquor license Saturday, and a representative for the landlord’s office later posted an eviction notice on a door to the club.
Davis said his client won’t try to fight the closure of his club and is cooperating with law enforcement and city officials.
“Mr. Lewis is just as upset about this as everyone else,” he said.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola said he and Gov. Asa Hutchinson planned to form a task force in response to the club shooting and other recent violent incidents in the city. Stodola said he hoped the panel would look at increasing monitoring of parolees released in the community as well as efforts to keep guns out of felons’ hands.
“Certainly, from a broader context, we’re reaching out to the community in a variety of ways, asking for their participation and help, whether it’s helping to mentor a child that needs direction or whether it’s helping a felon that’s been released that needs to find some gainful employment,” Stodola said. “We’re trying to work both ends of the spectrum, the people who haven’t gotten in trouble yet and the people who have already been in trouble and want to go straight.”
Hutchinson’s office said the governor planned to spend Wednesday talking with law enforcement, legislators and state officials about how to address the problem as well.
Associated Press writers Andrew DeMillo and Jill Bleed also contributed.