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Police look for shooters in Palmetto nightclub slaying

PALMETTO — Two people were killed and 22 others injured after a pair of gunmen opened fire at a nightclub early Saturday.

Officers were called to Club Elite, 704 10th St. W, at about 12:30 a.m. after getting a report of a shooting.

They found a chaotic scene. Hundreds of people were outside. Dozens had been rushed to area hospitals.

Near the club's front door, officers found Trayon Goff, 25, of Palmetto. Inside, they found Gwenette Matthews, 38, of Bradenton. Both were dead.

"It was a tough scene to work," said Lt. Scott Tyler, who said he arrived 20 minutes after the shooting. Police are still looking for the shooters.

They believe the shooters were outside the club, possibly on foot, and shooting into the crowd and club.

Tyler said detectives spent Saturday working various leads and planned to review surveillance video of the area.

"We have spoken to a bunch of people both at the scene and the victims," Tyler said. "Hopefully something pans out."

The club, about half a mile away from the police station, sits at the end of a strip mall that also includes a cell phone store and a hair salon.

On Facebook, Club Elite describes itself as a place for those 25 and up. Management did not respond to phone calls or e-mails Saturday. Police tape surrounded the club Saturday as investigators worked the scene.

Turner said the club often fills up on weekends. Because the front door is so close to the street, crowds usually spill out onto the sidewalk and adjacent parking lots, he said.

"We've had issues there before, but I hate to categorize it as a problem," he said.

A man was killed near the club in December, he said, but prosecutors determined the shooter was acting in self-defense.

Of those injured Saturday, six were seriously wounded and taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.

Sixteen others went to Manatee Memorial Hospital. All but one were treated and released, authorities said. Turner said it was unclear how many of those injured actually suffered gunshot wounds.

"Hopefully, they'll all pull through," he said.

Matthews' family, reached at her home, declined comment on Saturday. Goff's family could not be reached.

Officers were at the scene late Saturday afternoon. They found quite a few rifle shell casings in and around the building, Tyler said.

A sport utility vehicle in the parking lot next to the club had bullet holes in it. "We're working very hard to put these people behind bars," Tyler said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Palmetto police at (941) 723-4587 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-8477. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8643.

Police look for shooters in Palmetto nightclub slaying 09/10/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 10, 2011 11:26pm]

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