AD Main Menu

Three shot in brawl outside downtown nightclub

Devin Kelly

Update, 7 p.m. Sunday

A 22-year-old woman shot twice in a brawl outside of a downtown Anchorage club early Saturday remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition Sunday, her family said. 

The woman, shot in the lower abdomen, was the most seriously injured of three people shot outside Club Soraya around 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning, her family and police have said. Two other men were shot, one in the leg  nd the other in the abdomen. Club Soraya is located at 420 West 3rd Avenue in downtown Anchorage. 

On Sunday, the Anchorage Police Department was silent on its investigation of the shootings. 

Police said Saturday that no arrests were likely this weekend. 

The woman underwent surgery at a local hospital, according to her family. A Club Soraya bartender said the victim was a friend of Precious Alex, who was shot to death through a window at her family’s Mountain View apartment earlier this month. Police have said Saturday’s shooting does not appear to be directly related to Alex’s killing.

No arrests or charges in the case have been reported. 

Members of the APD’s communications staff did not return calls seeking comment on the investigation Sunday.  

Original story

A fight between a couple of men inside a downtown nightclub early Saturday spilled outside and erupted into a brawl in which three people were shot, including a young woman who was critically injured, Anchorage police say.

Someone called police at 2:34 a.m. to report a shooting on Third Avenue in the parking lot outside Club Soraya.

Police said witnesses told them as many as 60 people were fighting in the parking lot, which serves the Sunshine Mall and 4th Avenue Market Place. But in interviews, witnesses, including the club owner, told the Daily News the number fighting may have been lower, about 12 to 15.

The young woman who was shot is a close friend of Precious Alex, the 15-year-old killed April 1 as she slept in her family's Mountain View apartment, according to Brittany Beltz, 24, a Club Soraya bartender. Beltz described the victim as a cousin of Alex's, though family said the two were simply close friends.

No one had been charged as of mid-afternoon Saturday. Police aren't releasing the victims' names or many details during the early stages of their investigation.

The 22-year-old woman was shot in the lower torso and taken by ambulance to a hospital, Anchorage police spokeswoman Anita Shell said. Her family said she was shot twice and underwent surgery. Her condition later Saturday was considered critical but stable, Shell said.

Two 21-year-old men also were shot, one in the abdomen and the other in the leg, according to police. They were taken by friends or acquaintances to hospitals, police said. They are expected to live, Shell said.

Beltz, a friend of the young woman shot, was working at the club Friday night, and was at Providence Alaska Medical Center Saturday with the victim's family, she said.

"There was like a big fight that happened inside the bar," Beltz told the Daily News.

The club was busy with patrons on hand to see Southern rap artist Pastor Troy, but not packed to its limit, said Club Soraya owner Hector Ortiz. He estimated the crowd at 120 people, in a club with a capacity of 260-plus.

Ten security staff members worked Friday, he said, but they were inside, not in the parking lot.

"There was a lot of dancing. It was real crowded in there. It was almost like a mosh pit kind of a scene," Shell said.

"Everything was going so nicely until that one point -- that flash point -- two guys get into it," Ortiz said in a phone interview. The ruckus started just as the event was wrapping up about 2:15 a.m., last call for drinks, he said.

Two men started screaming at each other, someone knocked over a light stand, he said. Ortiz decided to close early. The lights came on. "We put everybody outside," he said.

Then he heard shots, Ortiz said, maybe eight, rapid-fire: "ch ch ch ch ch."

He shut the door and told people to get away from the windows.

"Nobody in, nobody out," he said.

Beltz said she was looking out the club window and saw everything.

People were yelling. Someone got stomped. Men threw punches. Beltz said her friend was trying to break up the fight, which was happening near Beltz's blue sedan.

Gunfire erupted. "And then she dropped," Beltz said.

Beltz rushed to the parking lot.

"As I was running downstairs, they just started shooting more," she said.

The event appeared to be a random one -- not connected to the earlier shooting of Alex, the victim's family said Saturday.

"Wrong place at the wrong time," her younger sister said. "She's just more of a peacemaker. She just tries to keep the peace between everything and everyone."

Beltz also said she didn't think her friend was targeted but rather got between fighting men. Shell said police have established no connection to the Alex shooting, in which three people have been charged and are awaiting trial.

Witnesses reported hearing as many as 20 shots in all, Shell said. She wouldn't say whether police recovered any weapons.

On Saturday afternoon, Beltz's blue sedan was still in the parking lot. She said police didn't let her drive it away. It had a flat tire. The car is decorated with writings in memories of her friend Alex. On the rear window, references to Alex's nickname and name, "NaeNae World" and "Precious." Scrawled on the driver's side: "Never forgotten." On the passenger side: "RIP 1998-2014."

Ortiz said he was relieved the shooting didn't happen inside the club where more people could have been hurt. The next time a big act performs at the club, he said, he may suggest police patrol the parking lot when the crowd leaves.

The shooting is the latest episode of violence in downtown Anchorage around "bar break" -- bar closing time, which is 3 a.m. on weekends.

In 2012, a man was shot and killed outside Platinum Jaxx. Last summer, a shooter wounded three people outside the Anchor Pub. In October, a man died of his injuries after a bar-break fight in the parking lot behind the Gaslight Lounge. A man was beaten unconscious on West Fourth Avenue about 2:30 a.m. last Sunday, police said.

Club Soraya, which started as a Latin dance club, has operated in different locations around Anchorage over the years. It has seen trouble before.

In 2009, three people used a broken beer bottle and knives in an attack about 2:30 a.m. after an argument in the club spilled outside. In 2007, a woman was shot and another club-goer beaten in violence that erupted about 2:30 a.m. under similar circumstances.

On Saturday, crime scene investigators collected evidence. They marked about 50 spots with yellow, numbered evidence tags. At the 4th Avenue Market Place, police examined what appeared to be a bullet hole in a storage room leased by Alaska Fur Enterprise. They cut out a section of drywall to look behind it.

Shell said "a bunch of people" who witnessed the fight were being interviewed at police headquarters. It was still unclear what sparked the brawl, she said.

Police do not expect any arrests in the case this weekend, she said.

They ask anyone with information on the identity of the shooters to call 786-8900. People can remain anonymous and get a reward through Crime Stoppers at www.anchoragecrimestoppers.com or 561-STOP.

Reach Devin Kelly at dkelly@adn.com or 257-4314. Reporters Nathaniel Herz and Lisa Demer contributed to this story.

 


By DEVIN KELLY
dkelly@adn.com