- The Washington Times - Monday, March 10, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) Eight persons were shot and two were stabbed early yesterday when a brawl erupted in a nightclub above a Times Square arcade, police said. Two others were trampled as people rushed to get out.
A man shot in the chest and a woman shot in the stomach were in critical condition yesterday, said police Sgt. Dennis Ferber. The conditions of the others caught in the melee were not immediately available, but authorities said their injuries were not life-threatening.
The fight broke out about 2:40 a.m. in the club of the Broadway City Arcade on West 42nd Street, the street where theaters present "The Lion King" and "42nd Street."
Club security guard Omar Leger said he was in a bathroom when he heard gunshots and emerged to see people running toward the exits. Club-goers were falling and tripping over one another as they scrambled to get out, he said.
"People were getting trampled," said Mr. Leger, who estimated that as many as 350 people were in the club at the time.
The club's crowd capacity was not immediately available, but Ilyse Fink, a spokesman for the city Department of Buildings, said she could not recall any code violations. Authorities said the 10 shooting and stabbing victims were ages 17 to 25.
Another security guard, Juan Jose De la Cruz, said the club's policy is to pat patrons down on entry to check for weapons. A man who answered the phone at the arcade early yesterday declined to comment.
Police said yesterday that they were searching for two suspects and talking to three persons arrested on weapons charges at a nearby subway station shortly after the fight.
The department cracked down on gang violence in the area last year because of brawls, but police officials said the latest fight was apparently not gang-related.
The brawl followed a month in which a nightclub stampede in Chicago killed 21 persons and a club fire in West Warwick, R.I., killed 99 persons.

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