Columbia, SC (WLTX) – The Vista shooting suspect charged with seven counts of attempted murder had his preliminary hearing Wednesday. His lawyer claims the defendant fired no shots and that the dispute had nothing to do with music or gang activity.
John Bates Jr. is accused of shooting into a crowd outside Empire Supper Club last month.
The shooting left eight people wounded.
Richland County authorities previously told News 19, the shooting stemmed from a music dispute.
Bates is a rapper and goes by the name "Hun Dunn."
In court, Columbia police said the shooting stemmed from gang activity.
Bates' defense attorney John Delgado denied that claim and also denies that his client fired any shots.
“This has nothing to do with gangs. I do not know what an organized gang may or not be but my friends in law enforcement always try to put that finger on basically African-American men between the ages of 15-25, everything is a gang to them,” Delgado said. “Everything is gang-related activity, that’s not so, it certainly isn’t in this case.”
Richland County lawmaker Leon Howard is an uncle of one of the shooting victims. He says gang or not, the suspects deserve the maximum penalty.
“I think it has nothing to do with what happened. They deserve to be punished by the fullest extent of the law, whether they were members of gangs or whether they were Sunday school teachers,” Howard said. “I don’t see it being relevant to the fact that we had the number of citizens shot in the Vista that were shot.”
Bates' lawyer said his client was shot in the foot at Club Vault after the initial shooting.
He also says they are seeking bond so that his client can pursue his music career.
Bates faces additional charges including possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime and possession of a weapon by a person convicted of a violent crime.
The presiding judge found probable cause to move forward with all of Bates' charges.