Family, friends and coworkers continued to mourn for Tershawn E. Kitchen, who died in a shooting last Sunday, at a Friday evening candlelight vigil outside Vibez Lounge. But the club, in a statement Thursday, also criticized Columbia Police Department’s actions both before and after the shooting.
Candles spelling “Wattz,” Kitchen’s nickname, were put on the sidewalk outside the front door of the club, where Kitchen was shot while working as a security staff member.
“We are fully aware that Tershawn ‘Wattz’ Kitchen is a hero,” the Vibez statement said. “If the shooter was able to get inside the building, was able to shoot wildly into the crowd, or was able to engage with police, this tragic story could have been even worse.”
The statement also raised questions about the police’s actions Sunday. The post alleged that police were already nearby the scene right before the shooting and failed to initiate crowd control or break up the fight before it became a shooting. When they later obtained a search warrant for the club, police threatened to arrest staff if they did not leave the property, which according to the statement, was unnecessary “since all of the staff were cooperating willingly.”
The post also mentioned security cameras installed in a parking garage in front of the club, which would likely capture what happened Sunday morning. But Vibez raised doubts that the footage would ever be made available, saying that “we suspect that somehow the footage will disappear in this case.”
Jeff Pitts, public information officer for Columbia police, responded that “any and all footage related to this investigation would not be available until after the case is adjudicated.”
Vibez also questioned the medical support for Kitchen on the scene. Its post alleged that police “pushed off” staff members that were giving Kitchen medical treatment and comfort, and called the police’s efforts to provide medical aid and attention “lackluster.”
“Once they determined that someone else was also shot and injured, they pulled him out of the doorway, left him lying on the concrete, and didn’t have anyone giving him medical attention and wouldn’t allow any of our staff to be present to help and assist him,” the post alleged.
The ambulance carried Kitchen and the unidentified injured woman to MU Health Care’s Trauma Center, where Kitchen was later pronounced dead.
No one could be reached Friday afternoon at Columbia Fire Department, which was on the scene for medical response.
“When responding to an emergency, MU Health Care’s paramedics use the standardized and nationally accepted best practice Simple Triage and Rapid Transport (START) triage system in which the first responding ambulance determines which patients need immediate care based on severity of injuries,” said Jesslyn Chew, public relations manager for MU Health Care.
In its post, Vibez said it will “ensure that we investigate (Kitchen’s) death and the medical treatment from CPD to make sure that all policy and procedures was followed.”
“We have reviewed the blog post by Vibez,” Pitts said. “Police Chief Geoff Jones and other command staff have met with representatives from Vibez, and are committed to looking into the concerns that were raised.”