1 dead, 4 wounded in Brooklyn hookah lounge shooting as dispute takes deadly turn: cops
A dispute turned deadly when a man opened fire at a Brooklyn bar early Friday, killing his adversary and wounding three partygoers with stray bullets, officials said.
The shooter was sitting calmly inside the Buda Hookah Lounge, a bar on Flatbush Ave. in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, before getting into an argument with his 27-year-old victim, cops said.
The killer whipped out a gun and shot the victim, whose name was not immediately released, in the head and midsection about 2:55 a.m., cops said.
The gunman fell to the ground as he fired, leaped back to his feet and fired wildly as he scrambled out of the lounge, packed with some 70 people for “Ladies Thursday.”
“I was standing outside letting people in and I heard one of the shots fly by my head,” said bar security guard James Cruz.
“Everyone just started running. They were trying to get out any way they could, running out the front, back, side — however they could get out.”
As customers fled, the victim lay dying.
“I saw a guy lying between two tables,” said worker Sean Johnson. “His friend was standing over him saying, ‘Please don’t die. Hang on. Don’t die. Don’t die!’”
The victim was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he died 35 minutes later. He was a regular at the bar, employees said.
“I saw him when they wheeled him out,” Cruz said. “He was wearing all white, a white shirt and pants, but he was covered in blood. His eyes were open and rolled back into his beard. You could hear some breathing, like those very last gasps of air coming out his body.”
Three other people hit by stray bullets were taken to Kings County Hospital, police said.
A 25-year-old man was shot in the right foot, a 25-year-old woman was shot in the torso and a 28-year-old man was grazed in the head, officials said.
While all three stray bullet victims were initially listed in stable condition, the man grazed in the head was moved to the hospital’s intensive care unit Friday afternoon.
Several additional victims who suffered cuts, bumps and bruises during the mad stampede out of the club were taken to Brookdale University Hospital with minor injuries. Among them were a 25-year-old woman with a cut leg from shattered window glass who was was at first thought to have been shot.
The gunman remained on the loose. Cops were poring over surveillance video taken from the club and surrounding businesses.
“We’ve never had any issue here,” Cruz said of Buda Hookah Lounge. “But I ain’t doing security no more — not here.”
The business has long been Ali’s Roti Shop during the day. In January, it started staying open until 4 a.m., turning into Buda Hookah Lounge in the evening and offering bottle service and DJs.
Bar owner Johnny Ali, 45, was stunned by the chaos.
“People were rushing and there were hookahs falling everywhere and glasses shattering,” Ali said.
“I didn’t expect this at all. This is usually a mad mellow place with a good crowd. It’s usually a really good place.”