Three Charlotte teens are facing charges Saturday in connection with shootings at the NC Music Factory late Friday that sent five people to the hospital, three with life-threatening injuries, authorities said.
Chris Ardrey, 19, and Cario Davis, 18, were charged with multiple offenses in the incident north of uptown and are being held at Mecklenburg County jail. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said they stopped their car about an hour after the shootings and found weapons inside.
Police identified Jason Farmer, 18, as a third suspect. He was wounded during the shootings and taken to Carolinas Medical Center with serious injuries.
The latest violence in Charlotte followed six fatal shootings over the past week in the city, including five during the Labor Day weekend. One victim was a 7-year-old boy.
Police said a total of six people were injured Friday, one from flying glass. There were no updates Saturday on their conditions.
Some of the music factory venues prohibit concealed guns and such postings are typically on the inside of the doors, according to NC Music Factory management.
A state law took effect in 2013 that allows people with a permit to carry a concealed weapon into bars and restaurants, unless the establishment explicitly bans them. The law says the person carrying the gun is not allowed to drink.
Two of the people facing charges in the shootings have felony convictions, making possession of a firearm itself a crime.
Farmer is on probation for felony possession of a stolen vehicle, court records show. Ardrey spent a week in jail and got probation in 2013 for felony larceny.
Davis was found guilty in 2013 of misdemeanor resisting an officer and has pending misdemeanor charges of larceny, resisting an officer and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, records show.
In the Friday incident, Ardrey was charged with armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, possession of firearm by a felon, possession of a stolen firearm and altering or removing a serial number from a firearm. Davis was charged with those offenses and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.
Police have obtained warrants for Farmer’s arrest once he is released from the hospital. Farmer will be charged with armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a felon.
A fight, then shots fired
The shootings began just before 10 p.m., police said in a statement. They said a fight broke out at the Queen City Underground recording studio between several people and spilled into a parking lot.
Security cameras recorded some of the incident, Noah Lazes, president of the ARK Group that developed and manages the NC Music Factory, said in a statement.
People began shooting at each other, left the business and kept firing, police said.
One victim went to VBGB beer hall for help. That business shares the parking with the recording studio.
When police arrived, they found a woman and two men with gunshot wounds in the parking lot. Medic took them to CMC with potentially life-threatening injuries.
Minutes later, police found a wounded man in a car at nearby Spring and Callahan streets. The man had driven there from Hamilton Street, stopped and called for help, police said.
Medic took him to CMC with non-life-threatening injuries. A fifth victim drove to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound.
Lazes said multiple large events were happening around the complex when the shootings started, including a sold-out outdoor concert in Fountain Plaza that thousands had attended.
“We are deeply saddened by the horrendous actions of these individuals and want to assure all that we remain committed to doing our best to prevent such isolated incidents and ensuring public safety,” Lazes said. “The fact that these individuals were (stopped and questioned) in under 60 minutes we hope further sends a firm statement that crime at our campus will not go unpunished.”
The complex of music venues, restaurants, beer halls and nightclubs off North Graham Street has seen at least three shooting incidents since 2012.
In March at the club Label, a woman was hit in the head with a bullet but not seriously injured. Soon after, a man showed up at a hospital, saying he’d been shot in the leg at the club.
In March 2013, a man was shot in a parking lot near Label. And in July 2012, police investigated a shooting outside Club Halo on Hamilton Street that left two men shot.
‘A wonderful venue’
Karen Shumaker was there Friday to see a concert and left an hour after the shootings. On Saturday, she said she wouldn’t be afraid to go back and hoped others felt the same.
“I’m a cancer survivor and music gives me strength, joy and happiness,” she said. Violence “unfortunately is a sign of the times. The only thing they could do to prevent it is frisk everybody going in.
“But this is not going to stop me from going out there and enjoying life. It’s a wonderful venue and it needs to be supported.”
On Saturday, sand volleyball tournaments went on outside VBGB and patrons crowded Mattie’s Diner across the street.
“If I was worried, I would have called in sick,” said Patrick Diantete, box office manager at The Comedy Zone in the complex.
Nick Plesz, owner of NC Guitar Works across the street from where the shootings occurred, said the band rehearsal area should be closed because of what happened.
Mattie’s Diner owner Matt King said off-duty police officers and other security are always on the premises and responded swiftly to the shootings. “You can’t stop bad people from doing bad things sometimes,” he said.
VBGB’s owners, Tom and Kara Taddeo, declined to discuss the shootings but referred the Observer to a statement on their Facebook page thanking police for their “swift response” and that the injured “are in our prayers.”
Police ask that anyone with information about the shootings call 704-432-TIPS (8477) or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.
Staff Researcher Maria David contributed.