Prison release party takes deadly turn when man shot to death outside club

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Prison Release Party Turns Violent, Man Shot And Killed

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

One person was killed and three were injured in a shooting Sunday morning outside a downtown Hickory nightclub, police said.

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The violence erupted during a "welcome back from prison party."

Authorities said they responded to a report of shots fired just before 2 a.m. at The Vault Bar & Lounge in Hickory.

Antonio Watts, 20, died of a gunshot wound at the hospital, police said. Family members said Watts was hit by gunfire inside a parking garage next to the nightclub.

Three others were treated at hospitals for their injuries.

Police said people had gathered at the bar for a welcome back party for a man who was released from prison last Wednesday. Watts’ relatives said he was invited to the party, but did not know the man who was released from prison.

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Police said all four of the gunshot victims had been hanging out at the party inside the club prior to the shooting.

"It's really shocking because Hickory is such a small-oriented town," town resident Lizzie Warfield said. "You wouldn't think or hear of something like this happening."

Hickory police said officers collected at least a dozen shell casings from the scene.

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Antonio Watts was killed Sunday at a prison release party at a nightclub in Hickory, N.C. Police are still searching for suspects in the shooting death of Watts and the wounding of three others.

Antonio Watts was killed Sunday at a prison release party at a nightclub in Hickory, N.C. Police are still searching for suspects in the shooting death of Watts and the wounding of three others.
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Antonio Watts was killed Sunday at a prison release party at a nightclub in Hickory, N.C. Police are still searching for suspects in the shooting death of Watts and the wounding of three others.

Katelyn Dyson, the bar manager of Olde Hickory Tap Room located behind The Vault Bar & Lounge, said she had customers inside when she heard the gunfire.

"I was just in the office working and I heard about five or six gunshots go off," Dyson said.

Dyson said she called 911 just before 2 a.m.

“Police shut the roads off immediately, made sure everybody was safe,” Dyson said.

Dyson hopes the shooting doesn’t prevent people from enjoying the Hickory nightlife.

“Still come downtown and realize that it can happen anywhere,” she said.

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Officials said they are investigating. No arrests have been made.

Hickory police said Monday that The Vault Bar & Lounge has voluntarily surrendered its liquor license.

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