BENSON, N.C. — Gunfire at a Johnston County nightclub claimed the life of a college athlete who got his start at Clinton High. The sheriff is vowing to crack down on the troubled club where it all happened.
Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said that over the last several months, the D&L Nightclub has become a growing concern. After Saturday morning's shooting, Bizzell said he is issuing an ultimatum to the club's owner.
There are no neon lights at the out-of-the-way dance hall. The nightclub sits on a rural road just outside Benson. It is quiet most of the time, but neighbors said that two nights of the week it is a loud party that is growing every month.
Around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, according to Bizzell, 300 people were inside when a fight broke out on the dance floor. Three shots were fired; three people were hit.
Herbert Dixon, a 21-year-old linebacker for North Carolina A&T, died.
"Last night was the straw that broke the camel's back," Bizzell said. "We're not going to allow this type of activity in Johnston County."
Bizzell said detectives were working leads Saturday night, but still had no suspects. He said the nightclub's owner had eight security guards on duty, but the shooter still managed to get a gun into the building.
"I'm going to do what it takes," Bizzell said. "Either he (the owner) is going to clean it up, or I'm going to shut it up.
"It's real simple. As long as I'm sheriff, I'm going to look after my neighborhoods and the people of Johnston County."
Dixon had returned to Clinton during the N.C. A&T spring break.
A&T head football coach George Small described Dixon as an excellent athlete who worked hard to win.
"As we grieve and pray with the Dixon family, we need to ask for wisdom to understand the bigger plan for all our lives," Small said.
Said Chancellor James C. Renick: "The entire Aggie family sends encouragement to the Dixon family during their hour of need. Our sincere thoughts and prayers are with them."
Vice Chancellor Roselle Wilson said A&T's counseling services are available for athletes, students, faculty and staff.
Bizzell said several neighbors are teaming up to take on the club.
"They're even considering a petition to come before myself and/or the commissioners to shut it down," he said.
WRAL could not reach the club's owner or the man who owns the building, who lives next door.
Saturday normally is a busy night at the club. But a neighbor told WRAL that the club was quiet Saturday night.
As for the other two victims of the shooting, they were both treated and released.