2 dead, 8 others injured in Greenville, South Carolina, nightclub shooting

It was unclear whether the club should have been open, as entertainment venues were not included in the governor's order lifting pandemic limits.

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By Doha Madani

Two people were killed and eight others were injured in a nightclub shooting in Greenville, South Carolina, during a musical performance early Sunday.

Deputies who had been patrolling in the area rushed into Club Lavish after hearing shots and began evacuating people. Authorities have suspect information but did not identify a person of interest, Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis said.

The sheriff said two deputies were leaving a call when they saw a crowd run from the venue at about 1:50 a.m.

"So they float down and stop and look, they kind of see what was going on, and that's when they heard multiple gunshots," Lewis said. "And they parked here in front of the club and ran inside ... trying to stop that threat."

Victims were taken to nearby hospitals as other agencies came to assist.

Although authorities initially said 12 people were shot, sheriff's Lt. Jimmy Bolt said there were 10 victims. Bolt blamed confusion in the immediate aftermath for the miscount. Two people were pronounced dead at the hospital, and eight others were wounded, their injuries ranging from non-life-threatening to critical.

Bolt confirmed that investigators are looking to identify two potential suspects.

Lewis said the incident could potentially be gang related, although he did not say why he believed that. The department later said it did not want to speculate on a motive.

"It's a very active thing inside the club," Lewis said. "There's a small stage where some artists for a group was performing. Everything's turned over, there's a few chairs in there, food on the floor. ... You can tell somebody's left in a hurry."

Lewis said he was unsure why the club was open given the state's coronavirus restrictions. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has allowed a number of businesses to reopen, but entertainment venues, such as nightclubs and theaters, are not among them.

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"We don't know if they filed an appeal to do that or not about the governor's order," Lewis said. "I do know they were serving alcohol in there and those kind of things. I don't know how many people. I know there was a very, very, very large crowd ... with very little space in there for any type of social distancing."

Authorities said they were in contact with the governor's office to check whether Club Lavish filed for an appeal to the state order.

The coronavirus is on the rise in South Carolina, which reported more than 1,800 new cases Saturday. South Carolina has had a total of 43,386 cases, according to NBC News' tracking data.