by: Greg Suskin Updated:
FORT MILL, S.C. - Two Columbia men are dead after a shooting during what was supposed to be a celebration Saturday night in Fort Mill.
Steve Vandross, 47, and Reginald Strother, 24, were pronounced dead at Carolina's Medical Center late Saturday.
Fort Mill police said the shooting stemmed from a fight between rival motorcycle clubs.
Marko Thompson, with the Triple R Motorcycle Club out of Lancaster, rented out the National Guard Armory on Munn Road across from Fort Mill High School.
Thompson said it was supposed to be a party celebrating the club's third anniversary together.
"We were celebrating and wanted people to come celebrate with us," Thompson said.
There were more than 100 motorcycle clubs there from all over the country. Apparently 400 to 500 people showed up and most of them didn't know about a fight going on outside.
"We didn't have no idea that anybody was hurt or that anyone had been killed," Thompson said.
Triple R Motorcycle Club had rented the armory twice before and never had any reported problems, according to a statement from the South Carolina National Guard.
When police arrived expecting to break up a fight, they found one man in front of the armory shot and another on a bathroom floor.
Officers described the scene as "chaotic" and told Channel 9 that some people were leaving and others were trying to leave as they drove up.
Fort Mill police spokesman Major Bryan Zachary said they're still trying to sort through all the details.
"One particular group showed up apparently with the intent to cause an issue with the others," Zachary said.
Club members posted a flier on their Facebook page promoting the party at the Fort Mill armory. Thompson said the club is very community oriented --giving to charity, sponsoring toy drives -- and they never deal with incidents like this.
"When we came outside and actually saw what happened we were devastated as a club, because we were the host club," he said.
Police told Channel 9 the group was serving alcohol without a permit. That permit would've had to come through Fort Mill police for approval.
"We had no idea this event was even going on this weekend," Zachary said. "If we had known, we could've had police presence there and maybe prevented this from happening."
Thompson said he didn't know the two men who were killed, but he regrets that his club was the host for what should have been a night of fun.
"We just send our condolences out to the families and to the people who lost their lives," he said.
The South Carolina National Guard released a statement Monday saying that the guard rents out its 60 facilities statewide to a variety of groups for social events.
They are working with Fort Mill Police in their investigation.
Zachary said Fort Mill police have contacted the FBI. He said the federal agency has broad intelligence on some motorcycle clubs and could help with information leading to an arrest.
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