Deputies hope to arrest suspect in club shooting

CHESTER-Hancock County sheriff’s deputies are hoping to make an arrest for a weekend shooting at a crowded Chester nightclub that left one patron injured.

The shooting at the Velocity Club, 2097 Lincoln Highway (U.S. Route 30), happened just before closing on Saturday morning and sent an estimated 200 customers running for cover, said general manager Dawn Bruckman.

“When they heard the shots, everybody just scattered,” Bruckman said.

A 32-year-old Pennsylvania woman suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder and left the scene prior to the arrival of deputies, the sheriff’s department said. Authorities have not yet released her name.

Bruckman said she believes the injury was a “flesh wound” and that the woman later was treated at Allegheny General Hospital. “Even with all the commotion, there was not one drop of blood in this place,” she said.

Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher said the suspect also left before deputies’ arrival and that no arrests have been made. “We do have a person of interest, and our detectives are pursuing all possible leads,” he said.

Deputies recovered a bullet from a wall inside the club, along with two bullet casings, Fletcher said.

The shooting happened at 2:50 a.m. Saturday, just minutes after bar personnel had called 911 about a fight, Bruckman said. Bouncers broke up that fight, which involved “eight people on top of one guy,” only to have to deal with another fight on the dance floor, she said.

Between the fights, a male patron was seen running out the door, Bruckman said.

“What we think happened is: The guy who ran out the door went out to his car and got a gun and brought it back in and fired it,” she said. “How was any of us or our bouncers to know that he was going to do that?”

Bruckman said the club employs five bouncers on Friday and Saturday nights and that all patrons are patted down and checked with a hand-held scanner upon entry. She surmised that the gunman took advantage of the fact that the bouncers were distracted by the second fight.

Bruckman said she heard two shots and ran to the office to call the sheriff’s department, which already had deputies en route because of the first 911 call.

“When the gunshots went off, we didn’t see the shooter. We didn’t see anybody get shot,” she said. “He done what he done and got the heck out of here.”

Bruckman said deputies cordoned off the premises and did not let anyone leave until they were searched. She said no arrests were made.

“It was a good crowd,” she said. “We had one bad apple. One mad, bad apple.”

In her 12 years as manger, Bruckman said the club has never had a shooting incident like this. “We take every precaution,” she said.

Formerly a strip club, Velocity Club still advertises “exotic girls daily” and bartenders who serve in the nude. “That’s our niche,” Bruckman said.

Bruckman said the club will boost its security in response to the shooting. In addition to five bouncers, she said she wants two stationed in the parking lot and one always at the door.

“I hope (patrons) realize we did everything we could to protect them, and I hope they feel safe coming back,” she said. “I’m so glad that it wasn’t worse.”