Las Vegas police believe an associate of NFL player Adam "Pacman" Jones might have been the person who shot three people early Monday morning outside a strip club, a Metropolitan Police Department source said.
"We think the link is strong, but we haven't been able to verify it," the source said.
Detectives interviewed Jones on Monday about his time at Minxx, 4636 Wynn Road. His lawyer, Worrick G. Robinson, said the 23-year-old cornerback for the Tennessee Titans was not a suspect in the shooting and was cooperating with police.
"He was interviewed because he was there," Robinson said. "Nobody with him had a gun or fired a gun or was involved in any criminal activity."
Jones fled out a back door when a fracas broke out inside the club, and then he noticed a fight in the parking lot that escalated into gunfire, Robinson said. Jones and his friends then jumped in their vehicle and left, he said.
But owners of the club near Tropicana Avenue and Valley View Boulevard told the Review-Journal on Tuesday that Jones was lying.
"He denied any knowledge of the shooter, but he was sitting right next to him," club co-owner Robert Susnar said. "Those guys came in together and left together."
Susnar recounted the events leading up the shooting based upon his interviews with employees and club surveillance video. He said Jones and his entourage of a half-dozen people had been in the club earlier that night and left without causing any problems. The trouble started when they returned sometime after 4 a.m.
Jones had tossed hundreds of $1 bills on the stripper stage, an action known in street slang as "making it rain." When one of the strippers started grabbing the money without Jones' permission, he got angry, grabbed her hair and slammed her head against the stage, Susnar said.
That's when security guard Aaron Cudworth, a mixed-martial artist with professional fighting experience, intervened and stopped the assault, he said.
"At that point, Pacman said, 'I'm going to kill you,'" Susnar said.
A melee ensued as Cudworth scuffled with Jones and members of his entourage, Susnar said.
Order was eventually restored, and everyone was moved outside. That's when the gunman opened fire toward the front door of the club, hitting Cudworth, security guard Tom Urbanski and a female customer.
"He goes out, retrieves a gun, then shoots two security guards, pretty much making good on the threat made by Pacman Jones," Susnar said.
Cudworth, who was shot in the chest and arm, was released from University Medical Center on Tuesday. Urbanski remained at UMC in critical condition. He was expected to live, but a bullet severed his spine and paralyzed him below the waist, his father said.
Jones' lawyer gave a different account of what preceded the shooting, saying the chaos started after some entertainers began throwing cash into the air, sparking a fight among women on and off stage as they scrambled for the money.
During the commotion, someone tried to grab Jones' money, and when he tried to get it back he was attacked, Robinson said.
"Mr. Jones didn't assault anybody," he said.
Robinson said several Minxx security guards then attacked Jones and members of his party, including a woman and his manager.
"A couple of security officers were a little over-aggressive with Mr. Jones," Robinson said.
Jones was left bleeding after the scuffle when stitches in his shoulder ruptured, Robinson said. Jones had undergone shoulder surgery a couple of weeks ago and was in a sling Monday morning, he said.
Robinson said his client was told he could leave Las Vegas at any time and was not a suspect.
Las Vegas police have been in contact with NFL security officials in connection with the incident, the police source said. Detectives were trying to round up dozens of witnesses who were at Minxx in the pre-dawn hours Monday, including Cornelius Haynes Jr., better known as the rapper Nelly, the source said.
Susnar said Nelly had been at the club but left before the violence erupted.
Susnar and Minxx co-owner Dwight Chornomud said they had hoped to attract celebrities and a hip-hop crowd to their club during NBA All-Star Week by bringing in the Harlem Knights strip club production from Houston.
Everyone coming into the club was screened with a metal detector and a pat down, and the entire week had passed without any trouble until Monday morning, they said.
Urbanski, 43, had been working at the club for about two weeks and had just started work that morning when he was shot, his father said.
"He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the shooter just opened fire at anybody who looked like the establishment," Don Urbanski said.
Tom Urbanski worked as a real estate agent by day and moonlighted at the strip club so he could put his wife, Kathy, through law school, his father said.
"He's going to be paralyzed for life, and what did he do?" Don Urbanski said. "I just want somebody to pay for it."
Susnar and Chornomud said they hope to raise money to help pay Tom Urbanski's expenses and medical bills. He was a good employee who was simply doing his job, they said.
"What does he get for a hard day's work? A bullet in the spine because of a jackass athlete," Susnar said. "It's the most tragic thing I can imagine."