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Georgia man arrested in Greenville nightclub shooting, charged with 2 counts of murder

APTOPIX Nightclub Shooting South Carolina

The Lavish Lounge where a shooting early Sunday night left numerous dead and at least 8 injured Sunday, July 5, 2020, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

GREENVILLE — A Georgia man has been arrested in the shooting deaths of two people early Sunday at a Greenville nightclub.

Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis announced at a Tuesday afternoon press conference that Jarquez Kezavion Cooper, of Athens, Ga., and a member of Atlanta musician Foogiano’s entourage, was arrested Monday in Gwinnett County, Ga. 

In addition to the two murder charges, Cooper faces seven counts of attempted murder and a charge of possession of a deadly weapon during a violent crime.

An additional charge of attempted murder is pending, sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Bolt said after the press conference, as investigators still seek three unidentified men in the case. There were two shooters, he said.

To the men at-large, Lewis said, "we’re coming for you.” 

Lewis said Foogiano, 26, who was performing at the nightclub, has not been cooperative. All communication, he said, has been through an attorney. Foogiano, whose real name is Kwame Brown, is a trap rap musician who has surged in popularity in recent months. 

Lewis, speaking in a conference room on the second floor of the Law Enforcement Center in downtown Greenville, said anyone who was with the gunmen could face charges, depending on how much they knew before, during and after the incident. 

The sheriff presented two videos: One showing the mayhem that erupted after a gunman showed a weapon early Sunday from the stage at Lavish, and another from the body camera of a county deputy responding to the scene. In the first video, a compilation of several clips, investigators froze the frame as several different men — all later identified as having arrived at the nightclub with Foogiano — presented firearms. 

Lewis repeated an assertion he made Sunday that the shootings appeared to be gang-related. He said Greenville County received assistance from the FBI as well as law enforcement in Athens-Clarke County, Ga., and Gwinnett County in apprehending Cooper.

Lewis did not identify the deputies who were first on the scene, but he said all acted “unselfishly,” and cited one who drove a shooting victim to Greenville Memorial Hospital in his own patrol car and another who drove an ambulance to free up a paramedic working on another shooting victim.

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Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis narrates as a compilation of security-camera footage from Lavish Lounge plays during a press conference Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Ten people were shot at the Greenville nightclub early Sunday.

Footage from video cameras shows that everyone involved with the shootings left immediately.

Lewis said the two people who died in the gunfire — Mykala Bell, 23, and Clarence Sterling Johnson, 51 — were innocent bystanders with no ties to gangs. Another eight people were injured in the gunfire and one remains at the hospital, Lewis said. Altogether, he said, 12 rounds were shot in the crowded, dark club.

All three of the men investigators are still looking for, Lewis said, appeared in videos taken at the scene presenting weapons. All arrived at the club Sunday night with Foogiano, and all entered through a back door with the artist before the concert, which started at about 1 a.m. Sunday.

Video from multiple security cameras shows the shootings broke out at about 1:45 a.m.

Greenville Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis shows body cam footage from officers who responded to the shooting at Lavish Lounge early Sunday, July 5, where 10 people were shot.

Greenville County Council Chairman Butch Kirven said Tuesday he is working with County Attorney Mark Tollison, County Administrator Joe Kernell and the rest of council to find a way to close nuisance nightclubs in the county. A second shooting this past weekend took place at the Dolce nightclub next door to Lavish early Saturday.

"We are going to use every possible resource to close both these clubs just as soon as we can," Lewis said.

Lavish and Dolce both have a long history of run-ins with law enforcement, Lewis said. The Post and Courier has requested records of all calls to the two nightclubs over the past five years. Lewis said Tuesday that violations there have included fights, shootings and drug activity. He also said that the governor's pandemic order limiting groups at events to 50 people could result in a $200 fine but he said that was a civil offense.

"We do not have the authority to shut an event down," Lewis said.

Follow Anna B. Mitchell on Twitter at @AnnaBard2U.

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