Eight people were shot early yesterday outside a nightclub in Northeast Washington, wounded on a particularly violent night in the city that produced 13 injuries and one death, police said.
Five shootings took place in the eastern part of the District in a three-hour period, police said. None of the shootings appeared related, they said.
Officials believe the bloodshed was an aberration and did not represent a pattern of escalating violence, D.C. Police Assistant Chief Brian Jordan said.
The nightclub attack took place at Deno's -- formerly known as Breeze's Metro Club -- shortly after its closing time at 2 a.m. Five women and three men were hit -- the highest injury toll for a single incident in the District in at least a decade, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman.
People hot and sweaty from a night of hand-dancing to the local band Uncalled 4 were outside the nightspot, lingering, when the "bang-bang-bang" of gunshots rang outside, said club owner Daniel "Breeze" Clayton.
"I swung that side door wide open and all the people came rushing back in when they heard the gunshots," said Clayton, who held at least one of the bleeding victims until the ambulances arrived -- all eight of them.
"People ran back inside here to save their lives," he said. "I think someone could've died if they didn't come back inside to hide from all that."
The victims -- ranging in age from 17 to 24 -- were standing outside the popular go-go music spot when they were shot. None of their injuries was life-threatening.
Three hours after the gunfire, detectives were still interviewing almost 100 witnesses who had been outside the club in the 2300 block of Bladensburg Road NE, police said. No one has been arrested, and police said they had not determined a motive.
All of the shooting victims at the club were hit below the waist, something that "could've been an issue of bad aim or it might have been intentional," but detectives are unsure, Jordan said.
Clayton said his patrons told him a dark SUV stopped across the street and at least one passenger began firing. Police said they aren't sure whether that was the attackers' car or one that was trying to avoid the gunfire.
The trouble did not mark the first time bullets were fired near Clayton's club. A fatal shooting took place near the club in 1993, and another shooting left a man seriously wounded in 1994.
Clayton, who always wears his trademark straw hat and has his face on a billboard above the club, has security guards and metal detectors to try and keep the peace.
"I do fundraisers, I have strict rules about checking IDs. I do all kinds of things to try to keep the trouble away, but then something like this happens outside," he said.
The three hours of violence began about 10:50 p.m., when two women in the 1200 block of Oates Street NE were shot, one in the lower back, the other in the arm, police said. About the same time, a man was shot in the leg and the stomach at the 700 block of Atlantic Street SE. There were few details available in that shooting, but the injuries were not life-threatening, police said.
About three hours later, two men driving south on Kenilworth Avenue near Polk Street NE were shot, one in the wrist and another in the chest, police said.
About 15 minutes after the nightclub shooting, officers called to the 300 block of 13th Street NE found a 23-year-old man who had been fatally shot in the neck, police said. The victim's identity is being withheld until detectives notify his family. Police said they don't know the motive in his killing.