TAMPA (FOX 13) - A 22-year-old man has been arrested in connection to a drive-by shooting outside of a hookah bar in SoHo early Saturday morning.
The Tampa Police Department arrested Gary Omar Rivera Montanez and charged him with one count of first degree murder and four counts of attempted first degree murder. He's accused of shooting five people outside of The Palace Lounge at 4:30 a.m.
Investigators believe it all started with an altercation between Montanez, a bouncer and a former bouncer at the lounge. TPD said, after the lounge closed, the accused shooter was "aggressively flirting" with some women in the parking lot. One of them asked a man who is a former bouncer at the lounge, for for help. The former bouncer asked an on-duty bouncer to step in and Montanez was asked to leave.
Witnesses told police Montanez said, "Don't try me like this. I've got a gun," and that he would remember their faces and would be back, as he was leaving. Montanez left, but came back and shot at the people in the parking lot from his driver's side window. Police said five people were shot.
One of the victims, 34-year-old Mike Franck, was shot in the chest and pronounced dead at the scene. Police said Franck did not appear to have been part of the initial confrontation with Montanez.
An employee at the lounge told FOX 13 News he tried to save Franck after he was shot.
The employee, who asked us not to use his name, said he was in the back of the business when he heard gunshots. He rushed to the front to find victims laying on the sidewalk. He says he tried to administer CPR to Franck, but it was too late.
"I'm telling him, 'Son! Yo son! You gotta wake up! You gotta wake up!'" the employee recalled of the moments less than 24-hours before. "I'm smacking his face, and all that, and he just basically died in my arms."
The other four victims suffered non-life threatening injuries, including the woman with whom Montanez was "aggressively flirting."
TPD officers pulled over a car matching a description of the accused shooter's car and they found a handgun and shell casings inside. Witnesses later identified the driver as the alleged shooter.
Police said Montanez admitted to being in an altercation at the Palace Lounge and firing into the crowd, but said it was in self-defense.