Next Level nightmare

One dead, one hurt in shooting

One man died and another was hurt in a shooting that occurred inside the Next Level nightclub on West Bay Road early Thursday morning.

ext Level night club

Police officers investigate Thursday morning’s deadly double shooting at the Next Level night club. Photo: Brent Fuller

Approximately 100 people were inside the club when shots rang out around 1.30am, according to witnesses there who have spoken to the Caymanian Compass.

‘The first shot sounded like someone dropped a bottle,’ said one man who the Compass is not identifying in order to protect him from retaliation. ‘I saw the body drop and the second shot went off.

‘I’m still speechless; sleepless…I’ve never seen anyone get shot in front of me, especially not in Cayman.’

The dead man was identified as Carlo Webster, a West Bay resident in his early to mid-30s. The second man, who was hit in the stomach by gunfire, was hospitalised and expected to recover.

Those inside the club reported two or three gun shots being fired, and were unsure whether the second man was even a target of the shooting.

No arrests had been reported in the killing as of press time Thursday. Mr. Webster’s death is the sixth homicide to occur in Cayman so far this year.

Next level landlord and liquor license-holder Christian Sorenson said he was at the club until about 1.15am on Thursday and that prior to the shooting, everything had appeared normal.

Wednesday nights at Next Level are generally well-attended by local college students, but the crowd thins out a bit in September when some of the clientele head back to school overseas. Mr. Sorenson said the Next Level was at about one-third capacity just before the shooting happened.

‘Everything looked normal, not really crowded…there was no sign that anything was wrong,’ Mr. Sorenson said.

Witnesses said some shoving and shouting occurred just before the shooting, but by that time Mr. Sorenson had left.

The Next Level is well outfitted with security cameras, eight on the inside and four on the outside. Mr. Sorenson said the cameras record video for up to six hours at a time. Police are examining the videos.

The club also employs security guards that search those entering at the front door using metal detector wands and full-body pat down techniques.

‘I’m stunned that someone would have done this in front of witnesses and cameras,’ Mr. Sorenson said. ‘If they’re crazy enough to do this…I just don’t know.’

Next Level owner Harry Lalli said he was seeking more information on the incident and was unable to make a statement by press time.

Police Commissioner David Baines said the Next Level would be closed for the foreseeable future as it is a crime scene.

‘As part of our investigation we will look at issues related to the club and any identified failings will be reported to the Liquor Licensing Board,’ Mr. Baines said.

There have previously been crime problems around the Next Level and the adjacent parking lot, particularly near closing time in recent years. However, just last year liquor board chairman Mitchell Welds praised the establishment’s efforts in improving security.

‘Security looks pretty tight there,’ Mr. Welds commented at a board meeting in September.

Another board member said that Next Level was setting the example that other nightclubs on Grand Cayman should follow.

RCIPS Chief Inspector Peter Kennett said police were urging witnesses to the crime to come forward, and said there were likely to be a fair few given the number of people at the club Thursday morning.

‘Did you see someone leaving the area or a car driving away? If you did please come forward,’ Mr. Kennett said.

Those with information were asked to call either George Town police station at 949-4222, the RCIPS anonymous voicemail service at 949-7777, or Crime Stoppers at 800-8477.