Eight people shot, 2 stabbed, during melee inside nightclub above Times Square arcade

Monday, March 10th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The dance floor of a Times Square nightclub became the site of a panicked melee when someone opened fire on the crowd, hitting eight people, and another man slashed two others with a knife, police said.

Ten people were injured in the second-floor nightclub at the Broadway City Arcade on West 42nd Street, where ``The Lion King'' and ``42nd Street'' appear. Two other clubgoers were hurt in the subsequent stampede.

No arrests had been made. Authorities were reportedly questioning two suspects in connection with the Sunday morning melee and investigators were looking for two men, an alleged shooter and man who alleged began stabbing clubgoers.

The brawl followed two high-profile incidents at nightclubs. A stampede at a Chicago club killed 21 people on Feb. 17, and a fire at a nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., killed 99 on Feb. 20.

In the latest case, a 22-year-old man who was shot in the chest remained in critical condition early Monday. A 19-year-old woman who was shot in the stomach was upgraded to serious condition, said Felicia Isoh, an administrator at Bellevue Hospital, where both patients were being treated.

The other injuries were not life-threatening, officials said.

Club security guard Omar Leger said he was in a bathroom when he heard gunshots and emerged to see people running toward the exits. Clubgoers were falling and tripping over each other as they scrambled to get out, he said.

``People were getting trampled,'' said Leger, who estimated as many as 350 people were in the club at the time.

The club's crowd capacity was not immediately available, but Ilyse Fink, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Buildings, said she could not recall any code violations. Authorities said the 10 victims who were stabbed and shot were ages 17 to 25.

Another security guard, Juan Jose De la Cruz, said the club's policy is to pat patrons down as they enter to check for weapons.

A man who answered the phone at the arcade early Sunday declined to comment.