UPDATE: 2 victims of S.C. nightclub shooting identified

The two victims who died Sunday after a shooting at a South Carolina nightclub have been identified.
The Greenville County Coroner's Office identified the dead as 23-year-old Mykala Bell of Greenville and Clarence Sterling Johnson of Duncan, a 51-year-old security guard at the club, according to the Greenville News.

Eight others were wounded, a sheriff's official said.

Credit: Richard Shiro

Credit: Richard Shiro

Two Greenville County sheriff's deputies noticed a disturbance at Lavish Lounge just before 2 a.m. Sunday and saw a large crowd running out of the building, Sheriff Hobart Lewis said at a news conference. There was “active gunfire from inside the building,” Lt. Jimmy Bolt said in an initial statement, and Lewis said all the shots were fired inside.

"I was in bed, and all of a sudden you hear this 'Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! 
Pow!' " local resident Mike Riley told the Greenville News. Riley said he heard four or five shots. He said he's been worried about the club before Sunday morning's shooting — both about violence and whether the club is violating rules designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. He wants it shut down. "It's a danger to everyone."
Lewis and Bolt initially said 12 people had been wounded — with at least four in critical condition, Lewis said — but Bolt later told WYFF-TV the casualty figure had been revised.

No one was immediately taken into custody. The sheriff’s office had “some suspect information,” Lewis said at the news conference, but he wasn’t sure if there were multiple shooters.

“We don’t really have a person of interest that we can name,” Lewis said, later adding that authorities weren’t sure what led to the gunfire.

Police are searching for two suspects, news outlet WFXG reported.

The shooting victims were taken to the Prisma Health hospital in Greenville, some via private vehicle. Bolt said of the eight wounded, some had non-life-threatening injuries and others were in critical condition, but he didn’t have a tally of the latter.

Regional coverage

At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, we focus primarily on Georgia news, but we also like to provide readers with regional coverage of the Southeast. We cover stories that impact our region, especially in Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina and Mississippi.

Lewis said a “very large crowd” was at the nightclub for “some type of concert.” A post on Lavish Lounge’s Facebook page advertised a July 4 performance by trap rapper Foogiano.

An Instagram direct message from the AP wasn’t immediately returned, but a bookings representative told the AP via text message that Foogiano was fine and his team was safe.

The nightclub is about 5 miles southwest of downtown Greenville, in South Carolina’s Upstate region.

Coronavirus cases in South Carolina have risen swiftly, and the state's rate of positive tests is three times the recommended level. In late June, Greenville — which has experienced some of the state's highest COVID-19 rates — became the first city to mandate face coverings in South Carolina, where Gov. Henry McMaster has refused to implement a statewide mask requirement.

McMaster reminded South Carolinians last week that he hadn't lifted restrictions on large crowds, and that those operating nightclubs illegally or holding concerts against his orders don't have to be caught in the act to face criminal charges. McMaster said they could be charged weeks later if COVID-19 cases are traced back.

Bolt said the question of whether the club was in violation of the coronavirus guidelines was a civil, not criminal matter, and has been referred to the governor’s office.

A phone call and an Instagram direct message from the AP to Lavish Lounge weren’t immediately returned, but the club posted on Facebook just before 6 a.m. that events “have been postponed until further notice.”

Lewis said at the news conference that he didn’t know whether the club had sought an exemption to the governor’s order or secured a permit for Saturday night’s event, but said it was clear the club’s patrons weren’t 6 feet apart.

“It’s certainly not the best situation to stop the spread of this virus,” the sheriff said.