PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Video from a security system at a Valley Street nightclub shows a dramatic shootout in the club’s parking lot, but city license officials would not allow the media to record the evidence during a public meeting.
A Providence police detective who testified at Monday’s hearing said the video surveillance from inside Club Luv shows the parking lot shooting began with an altercation in the VIP section of the nightclub.
The video was shown to the Providence Board of Licenses during a show cause hearing following a May 7 incident where three people were shot, two of the victims were inside the club before the shooting. The media was not allowed to record the video citing an ongoing investigation.
The shooting happened outside a short time after tensions flared in the club. The victims were ages 25, 27, and 38. One of the victims was found with two gunshot wounds to the back at a neighboring gas station, according to police. Shell casings were found in the parking lot of Club Luv, located at 677 Valley St., according to police.
Video from a camera outside the club shows one of the suspects taking an object from another individual and tucking it into his waistband before apparently reentering the club, moments before the shooting. He later emerges again and waits outside, another one of the suspected shooters leaves the club, runs across the street and returns, the video shows.
The video then shows one man throwing a punch at another person outside the club, another man then opens fire in their direction. Another suspect opens fire in the direction of the first shooter. Police say the man who threw the punch is one of the shooting victims. The investigation is ongoing, but a detective testified the other victims were identified as a shooter and a bystander. Names have not been released.
Video showed there was no club security in the parking lot at the time of shooting.
Club attorney Peter Petrarca asked the city if he could give closing arguments on Thursday. The board agreed to table the hearing until then, the club will remain closed until they issue a decision.
Providence Police Detective Matthew Cute said one of the three shooting victims remains hospitalized. No arrests have been made and no guns have been recovered in the wake of the incident. Another officer, Patrolman Michael Luke, who was first to respond to the scene, testified that witnesses would not cooperate with their investigation.
Cute said they immediately seized the surveillance video system from Club Luv. Management at the nightclub later gave police permission to view the video, according to testimony.
A reporter for WPRI 12 objected to the city’s motion to not allow the media to record the video during the public hearing, but the board ordered television cameras to point away from the screen. A lawyer for the board said not allowing the media to record the video was necessary because the criminal investigation was ongoing. The meeting remained in public session while the video was played so anyone in the room could view it.
Petrarca agreed with the city not to allow the news media to record the video.
The club has been closed since the May 7 shooting, Monday’s hearing was scheduled to decide the nightclub’s fate.
Club Luv manager Andre Samuel testified before the board and said it was apparent at least two people were getting into an argument toward the end of the night, so security went over to the VIP section to calm things down. He said bouncers in the club were yelling for people to leave when the altercation began.
Samuel said he wasn’t sure what the fight was about, but that one of the people involved described it as “minor.” He added he believed their security coordinator was the one who called 911 immediately following the shooting.
Board Chairman Juan Pichardo asked the manager about a section of the video that appeared to show a topless woman on the stage at the end of the night. Samuel said nude dancing is not allowed in the club. Petrarca later said the club is allowed to have go-go dancers with body paint and denied the woman was topless, pointing out there were no charges brought by the city.
The assistant city solicitor said the go-go dancer’s appearance was “close” to violating an ordinance, but thinks it would be “unfair” to go after the club for that because the owners willingly handed over the video to cooperate in the shooting probe.
This article has been modified from the original to reflect two victims, not three, were inside the club before the shooting.