Investigators pursuing ‘lot of leads’

lwilliams@bradenton.comSeptember 13, 2011 

PALMETTO -- The city’s police force and Manatee sheriff’s detectives are “pursuing a lot of leads” in investigating the mass shooting that left two dead and 22 injured this weekend, a spokesman said Monday.

“I am not going to talk about it,” Palmetto Police spokesman Lt. Scott Tyler added. “We have nothing we want to put out there. We would really like it if people come forward and talk to us.”

Trayon Goff, 25, of Palmetto, was shot and killed outside the club’s front door.

Gwenette Matthews, 38, of Bradenton, was found shot to death inside the club.

“We know someone saw the face of the shooter and knows who it is,” Tyler said. “We know someone saw the car and could help us with that. But people are afraid. We understand that. But we need help.”

It’s frustrating to police, city officials and city residents who want to see justice done, said Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover-Bryant, who issued a statement Monday afternoon.

“We appreciate continued prayers by the community, but we also need action by those people that have knowledge of the shooting and/or shooters,” Groover-Bryant said.

According to documents provided by Tyler, there have been 215 calls to police for service at Club Elite in the past two years.

The call logs show fights, drunken pedestrians, disturbances and more than 60 noise complaints.

Many of the noise complaints originated from Kasheena McKee, 19, her mother or her sister Jasmine Young.

Club Elite abuts the family’s back yard.

McKee said she rolled off the sofa and dove for cover early Saturday, as she and her family heard the 70-plus gunshots fired into a crowd outside of Club Elite.

She crawled across the floor to safety.

Her mother was in the kitchen when the barrage began. She too dove for cover.

Her sister scooped up her infant daughter and cowered behind some furniture.

“This incident was, for me, the peak of the problems our family has had with that place,” McKee said. “Everything came to a head. That place is a nightmare.”

Her mother was one of several who called 911 on Saturday.

The family remained behind cover even after the shots stopped.

“We were scared to get up,” McKee said.

Once they ventured outside, they encountered sheer bedlam.

“Then I started hearing, ‘I got shot!’ or ‘My cousin got shot!’” she said. “It was pure chaos.”

“There were people looking for family members,” Young said. “It was terrible.”

But gunshots coming from Club Elite were nothing new to the family.

“That’s how we knew how to react,” McKee said.

She was thrilled when she learned the bar would not reopen.

“That makes me so happy. I can’t wait to tell my mom,” she said. “We never had a problem with the owner. We had a problem with the patrons.”

One of those most frustrated is Det. Chad Oyler with the Palmetto Police Department who is the front man on the Elite case and has been on the force in Palmetto for 10 years.

Oyler is taking the shooting very personal. He reads the blogs and hears the buzz on the street that Palmetto is a “violent place.”

“I think the big thing for me is that no one should go to a club and worry about being shot through a wall,” Oyler said Monday afternoon. “People are saying that we are not really trying to solve this case because it hasn’t been solved yet and that is the farthest from the truth. The truth is we want to solve it and we have been getting some cooperation from those who were there but we need more.”

Persons with any information about the crime are urged to call Oyler personally at 941-723-4587, ext. 6140 or the Manatee County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-8477. Crimestopper callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

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