Florida Club Struggles for Security after Shooting Incidents

MANATEE - Two shootings in two days - one nightclub.

Around 1:44 a.m. Sunday, deputies reported "shots fired" in a parking lot next to Club Heat, a nightclub at 5520 14th St. W. near Bradenton.

No one was hurt in the shooting, but two bullet holes were found in a parked car, according to a media release from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies also found eight 9 mm shell casings and some bullet fragments nearby. A witness told investigators the shots came from four or five men riding in a late-1990s white Ford Explorer, the release stated.

The shooting came less than 24 hours after another shooting at the club.

Around 2:28 a.m. Saturday, a man started shooting inside the club, according to reports.

Dan London, a Club Heat manager, said the man shot a small gun at the ceiling and ran outside.

The gunman, who had dreadlocks and wore a red and white jersey with the number 32 on it, ran into the club's parking lot and behind Country Buffet.

There he fired several more shots, deputies reported.

Joseph A. Cummings, 19, was shot in the right calf, and another bullet hit the left shoe of a second teenager, causing an impact injury to her foot.

The bullet lodged in her shoe and did not break skin, according to deputies.

"The only way that got in was a female brought it inside and gave it to her boyfriend," London said of the gun used in Saturday morning's shooting.

London said Club Heat patrons go through metal detectors before entering the club and male patrons are patted down.

He said a small-caliber handgun could have been smuggled into the club by a female.

But that won't happen again, he said.

Club Heat managers plan to hire a female bouncer who will pat down female bar patrons as well.

As for the parking lot near Country Buffet, London said a few off-duty law enforcement officers will start watching it.

Another possibility taken up by Club Heat management, London said, is changing the required age for admission from 18 to 21.

"We are discussing that now," London said, adding that he's not sure the age requirement will weed out the "punks."

London said an average Friday night at Club Heat draws about 600 to 650 people and an average Saturday night brings in about 400 to 450 people.

According to London, out of the 600 people inside Club Heat early Saturday morning, 23 were under 21 years old. Out of 450 people there early Sunday morning, 36 were under 21 years old, he said.

County leaders have explored the possibility of an ordinance that would prohibit those under the legal drinking age from entering bars.

"You know, it only takes one or two punks to disrupt the whole night," London said, adding that such violent occurrences have become much more frequent in recent months.

A Club Heat security guard was stabbed while trying to break up a fight during the early morning hours of Oct. 23, according to The Herald archives.

Less than a month later, a dark-green or black two-door car with tinted windows cruised through the parking lot of Club Heat during the early morning hours of Nov. 13 - the day a 22-year-old man named Travis Pompey was shot outside his home near Palmetto.

Someone inside the car fired several shots at a crowd standing outside, according to court records. About 12 hours later, deputies arrested three men in a similar car in connection with another shooting.

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