Clubbers 'attacked police' after murder

MURDER squad detectives hunting a gunman who shot a nightclubber in the chest said yesterday they were “keeping all options open” in the quest to find the killer and the motive.

By Richard Smith

POLICE were attacked by clubgoers as they investigated a fatal shooting in a nightclub, it has emerged.

Up to 35 officers are hunting a gunman who shot a clubber in the chest while up to 800 revellers were on a night out at Zest nightclub in Princes Street, Ipswich, in the early hours of Saturday.

Detectives are keeping their options open in their quest to find the killer and the motive.

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One theory being pursued is that the shootings were the result of a gangland battle that had spilled over from London.

The nightclub has now been closed for 28 days after a magistrates' court in Ipswich was told of “terrifying disorder” among revellers, assaults on police and a gun being taken into the club. The court hearing followed Suffolk police applying for a closure order on the club.

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It also emerged during the hearing that police officers were attacked by clubgoers while they tried to interview people about the shootings.

Officers did not give a specific update yesterday on the progress of the murder hunt but South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court was told about the events of Friday night when 24-year-old Jimoh Plunkett, of South London, died.

District Judge David Cooper said: “It would be wholly irresponsible for me to do other than order its closure in the interests of public safety.”

But club owner, Kerpal Bains, said police procedures had caused frustration and panic among clubbers and he blamed the media for exaggerating the incident.

The court was told that at about 2.20am on Saturday a man was found near the club with gunshot wounds. He died a short while later. Three other men were also shot, two went to Colchester Hospital and one went to Ipswich Hospital. Another man is believed to have been stabbed.

Police Inspector Tristan Pepper said the club was immediately sealed off as the murder suspect was believed to have fired the shots inside the club and was likely to be still inside. A gun was later found in a council car park nearby.

Up to 800 people had attended a special Funky House and Old School music event at the club where garage style music was played.

Mr Pepper said Chief Inspector Alan Caton had telephoned club manager Glynn Price before the event stating that police intelligence had suggested that the club could expect trouble.

Mr Bains told the court that security was doubled for the event and CCTV, metal detectors, frisking and other ID procedures were in place.

Mr Pepper said: “Those concerns of Inspector Caton were around the potential disorder and violence surrounding the individuals known to frequent these types of events playing garage music. This garage scene and type of music is associated with violence.”

The court heard that following the shooting the club took three hours to empty while clubbers were asked for their details as they left.

During this time, frustrations began to mount as clubbers pushed against each other, bottles and glasses were thrown at police and people scrambled to escape over police barriers.

Mr Pepper said it was “an extremely frightening incident for the officers who attended” and that the club's staff were “uncooperative” with police.

Mr Bains said if the club was closed during December his company would collapse and the 45 members of Zest's staff would lose their jobs.

But District Judge Cooper praised the police's response in a desperate set of circumstances and said the local press had acted in a thoroughly responsible fashion.

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