Dad, attorney challenge charges against shooting suspects

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac, center left, alongside Mayor John Cranley, second from left, and City Manager Harry Black, left, announces the arrest of Cornell Beckley and Deondre Davis in connection to the Cameo nightclub shooting during a news conference at police headquarters, Thursday, March 30, 2017, in Cincinnati. At least two people opened fire inside a crowded nightclub early Sunday morning, killing one person and wounding more than a dozen others in what authorities described as a chaotic scene. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

CINCINNATI (AP) — The father of a man hospitalized in critical condition with gunshot wounds after a Cincinnati nightclub shooting doesn’t believe his son was responsible and an attorney for a second suspect charged with murder Friday blamed the arrests on public pressure.

A man was fatally shot and 16 other people were hurt when a dispute escalated into a gunbattle at the Cameo club early Sunday. Police have arrested two men on murder charges and say more arrests are possible.

Suspect Cornell Beckley, 27, appeared in court Friday with a bandage on his forehead. Hamilton County Judge Fanon Rucker set bond at $1.7 million, saying the total represented $100,000 for each person injured when the gunfire broke out.

Beckley’s attorney, Clyde Bennett II, told The Associated Press the murder count against his client is “a product of public outcry, social appeasement and politics.” He said Beckley denied the shooting allegation and pleaded not guilty.

Beckley was arrested Thursday in Colerain Township, just west of Cincinnati. The police complaint stated that Beckley and his co-defendant “were engaged in a gun battle” in the crowded club that resulted in the death of O’Bryan Spikes. Authorities said Spikes, 27, died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

The hospitalized suspect, Deondre Davis, 29, has been unresponsive and on a ventilator, said his father, Jackie Davis, who called the allegations shocking.

“We were so excited that they had someone, and to see my son’s face come across was devastating,” Davis told reporters Thursday evening outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. “My son couldn’t have done this.”

Attorney Carl Lewis said that he didn’t have all the facts yet, but that Davis is “innocent until proven guilty.”

Hospital spokeswoman Kelly Martin said Friday that two people remained in critical condition from the shooting.

Police estimate 200 people were inside the Cameo club near the Ohio River east of downtown Cincinnati when a dispute escalated into a gunfight in which more than 20 shots were fired. Mayor John Cranley said the most of those wounded were innocent bystanders.

In recordings of people calling 911, a woman pleading for help for a victim says there is “blood everywhere.”

The venue’s operator said Cameo planned to move out in May because of the landlord’s planned sale of the property but was instead closing for good Friday. City officials say the club was the scene of other violence in recent years, including a shooting inside on New Year’s Day 2015 and another shooting in the parking lot.

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