An early morning shooting left four men dead and at least three other people wounded on Saturday at a Brooklyn social club where illegal gambling was taking place, the police said.
Police said the motive for the shooting was not immediately clear, though investigators ruled out gang activity. No suspects had been identified.
The victims ranged in age from 32-49 and were struck by more than 15 bullets fired inside the club just before 7 a.m., the police said.
Two of the people killed resided in other states and the other two were from Brooklyn. Three other people, two men and a woman, suffered gunshots wounds but were expected to survive. An eighth person was hospitalized with a leg injury incurred while trying to escape, the police said.
On Saturday morning, police officials milled around the front of the social club, which is on the first floor of a low-rise, frame townhouse. Crowds of onlookers pressed against the yellow police tape at the periphery of the scene, around Pacific Street and Utica Avenue in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.
The space had a purple sign that read, “Triple-A Aces Private & Social Event Space Food Fun and Entertainment.” A police crime scene van was parked out front, and forensic investigators in all-white bodysuits walked in and out.
Neighbors said that the event space often attracted crowds of people on motorcycles.
Investigators recovered two firearms inside the location, a revolver and a 9-millimeter handgun, the chief of detectives, Dermot F. Shea, said.
He said at least 15 people had been inside the cramped, sparsely furnished club when the shooting erupted. There appeared to be an illegal gambling den set up on the first floor, he said. There was no evidence people had been drinking.
“What we see is evidence of some gambling, specifically cards, specifically dice,” Shea said. He added that there was no evidence the shooting was related to disputes between street gangs, which officials say have driven much of a spike in gun violence in northern Brooklyn this year.
Shea said the first 911 calls came in at 6:55 a.m., reporting shots fired at 74 Utica Ave.
The shooting shattered the early morning calm of the neighborhood. Mamadou A. Diallo, the imam at the Masjid El-Ihsan mosque on Utica Avenue, said he had just finished praying when he heard the shots. Moments later, the police flooded the intersection, he said.
“A lot of shots, almost all together, bam-bam-bam,” Diallo said. “Scared, you know. Police coming from everywhere.”
Early Saturday morning, investigators were reviewing “a number of videos” from inside the club and nearby businesses to determine the chronology of the events and how many guns had been involved in the quadruple homicide.
“I would not be shocked if we recover more” videos, Shea said. He said detectives were trying to determine if a “gambling dispute or a robbery” was behind the mass shooting.
Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison said police had received “no complaints” about the unlicensed social club over the past two years. “No activity, no concerns from this location,” Harrison said.
Crown Heights experienced a rash of shootings earlier this year, many of them linked to gang disputes, prompting the police to step up patrols. Through Oct. 6, the number of people wounded or killed in shootings in the 77th Precinct, which covers northern Crown Heights, where the shooting on Saturday took place, had nearly doubled over the previous year, rising to 26 from 14.
While the police had not received complaints about the social club, building authorities had, according to city building records. One complaint from November 2008 said a caller stated that the first floor of the residential property was being used as commercial space, specifically a men’s club. A follow-up complaint 15 days later indicated that a caller said the first floor had been converted into a “nightclub” and was operating seven days a week.
The fatal shooting was the second quadruple murder to rattle the city in a week.
Last Saturday morning, the police arrested Randy Rodriguez Santos, a troubled homeless man, and charged him with bludgeoning five other homeless men with a 3-foot, 15-pound metal bar as they slept at different corners of Chinatown. Four of them died and a fifth was clinging to his life at an area hospital.
It was also the second mass shooting in Brooklyn in the last three months. Late in July, one man was killed and 11 other people were injured when at least two gunmen opened fire during the 56th annual Old Timers Day block party in Brooklyn. The police said that shooting appeared to be linked to a gang feud.