Sunday, February 18, 2018
Public safety

One dead, at least 2 hurt in shooting at Brandon nightclub

BRANDON — Officials say the fight began over a woman's lost purse at a crowded nightclub.

It spilled into the parking lot of the Boomerang Martini Club just before the club's 3 a.m. closing time.

A man flashed a gun and opened fire on another man. When he refused to put the gun away, the nightclub's security officer intervened.

"It was a very chaotic scene," said Hillsborough County Sheriff's spokeswoman Samara Sodos, who gave this account of Saturday's fatal shooting.

Hundreds had gathered at the Brandon night spot for a performance by Reggaeton star Farruko.

The purse belonged to the girlfriend of 28-year-old Louis Kuilan-Maysonet. When Christopher Gonzalez-Cartagena, 29, tried to walk toward his car, Kuilan-Maysonet fired several shots at him.

The nightclub's security guard, Andre Jennings, saw the scene unfold, Sodos said. He ordered Kuilan-Maysonet to stop shooting. Instead, Sodos said, Kuilan-Maysonet spun towards Jennings, 25, with the gun in his hands. Jennings, who has a concealed weapons permit, fired his own gun several times, hitting Kuilan-Maysonet.

Kuilan-Maysonet was taken to Brandon Regional Hospital, where he later died.

Gonzalez-Cartagena, who suffered several gunshot wounds, including a graze to the head, was taken to Tampa General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

So was club-goer Alejandro Salavarrieta, 22, who was shot in the leg. Deputies said it is unclear who shot him.

"I was walking to my car after the concert was over and I heard gunshots," Salavarrieta said on Saturday afternoon as he was headed into surgery.

"The first thing I did was squat down behind a car. When I tried to get up, I had been shot in the leg."

Salavarrieta said he later heard many conflicting stories about how the shooting started.

The case is under investigation. The State Attorney's Office will review whether any charges should be filed.

"Jennings was doing his job," Sodos said. "Whether or not there was a crime involved has to be reviewed."

Jennings is a licensed security officer, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing.

He is listed as a manager of the Eagle Group, a local security firm registered with the state, according to the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations.

In 2009, Jennings was arrested on a charge of aggravated battery on a pregnant female, according to state records. The charge was later dropped.

The nightclub was about half full for the performance, said Denny Vargas, a promoter for the event.

Vargas was walking back inside the club from the parking lot behind it when he heard about 20 shots fired, he said. A couple dozen people still inside locked the doors until the shooting ended.

"There were just too many shots," he said. Vargas saw one of the victims run in front of the building and collapse with a leg injury. When it was over, Vargas went back to the parking lot and saw another victim on the ground.

Vargas said the incident was surprising.

"We've had fights here and there but nothing like that," he said.

The nightclub, which is at 2016 Town Center Blvd. east of the Westfield Brandon mall and next to a Buffalo Wild Wings, has attracted the attention of law enforcement officers before.

In 2007, a stray bullet killed a mother of three after an argument broke out between a group of men inside. Then called Club Fusion, the business has changed names several times.

Since 2008, there have been dozens of calls to service to the club, including five assault and battery complaints this year, records show. Other calls include fights and theft.

"We do have an unusually high number of calls for service at this club," Sodos said.

Times researchers Tim Rozgonyi and John Martin contributed to this report. Shelley Rossetter can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2442.

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