Three witnesses to Sunday’s fatal shooting described the tragedy and the death of their 34-year-old co-worker, Tershawn E. Kitchen.

The shooting, which took place near Vibez Lounge at 19 N. Fifth St., resulted in one injury and one death. Ashley Jones, Ekene Kokelu and Morgan Gillespie were all working at the club at the time of the incident.

Jones, a bartender and bottle-server at the club and previously a reporter for the Missourian, said that, at first, nothing about that night seemed unusual.

Jones heard a group of women arguing and said that one of them “came in angry, screaming. ... Security guard Tershawn calmed her down and sat her in the booth.”

Kitchen, a security guard at the club, was shot and killed at about 2:35 a.m. Sunday, according to a statement from law enforcement.

“(The girl) said ‘F-— this,’ and she stormed out,” Jones said.

No more than 10 minutes later, people in the club heard a gunshot, according to Jones.

“I don’t know where the shooter was, but it was outside of the club.”

Jones wondered if the sound was from a car backfiring, but soon afterward, she said she heard at least three more shots.

“And that’s when everybody was like, ‘Get down, get down!’ And everybody was screaming, and you could hear it — crying,” Jones said.

She ran and hid in the kitchen when the shots paused.

Gillespie, a waitress, was working her first shift at the club. She said she was sitting in a booth by the front door next to the window.

“I heard gunshots,” she said. “And then I watched the security guard at the door get shot.”

Besides the fatality, the shots also injured an unidentified woman. An employee collecting money from the customers carried the injured woman to the middle of the lounge.

Kokelu, a bartender and bottle-server, hid beneath the bar during and immediately after the shooting but later heard chaos and screams from inside the building. A co-worker said to her, “She got shot! She got shot! Grab ice!”

She said they both wrapped ice with towels and held it to the woman’s face.

“I just grabbed her hand,” Kokelu said, “and just looked her in the eyes and told her that things are gonna be OK.”

When the shooter was gone, people came out of where they had hidden and gathered on the sidewalk; Jones and Gillespie said they met outside the back door. The police came and took over.

“There was lots of blood everywhere,” Kokelu said. She saw Kitchen outside on the ground.

“I just couldn’t believe that,” she said, “this person, who I saw, full of life, so gentleman-like and kind ... laying on the ground, not responding.”

Kokelu said it was “a night of people just gathering together and dancing, drinking and having fun,” which suddenly became a tragedy when “a man’s life was taken away and a girl’s left in critical condition.”

Columbia police have arrested and detained Curtis Allen Lewis in connection to the shooting, according to the statement.

The Violent Crime Task Force will also investigate the case. Anyone with additional information about this incident is asked to contact the Columbia Police Department at 573-874-7652 or, to remain anonymous, CrimeStoppers at 573-875-TIPS (8477).

  • Public Safety and Health reporter, Spring 2020. Studying data journalism. Reach me at hanjiang@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

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