MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shattered glass is left behind at a Memphis nightclub after a shooting took the life of a New Orleans firefighter Friday night.
Investigators said 37-year-old Gregory Howard was simply an innocent bystander at the Mynt Lounge on Hacks Cross Road.
The Shelby County Sheriff's Office said it all started with a fight inside the bar that spilled into the parking lot, when two people shot at each other, firing several rounds.
Howard, who was not involved in the fight, was shot. He was the only one injured in the shooting.
Officials said Howard was in town to play basketball at a tournament set up by an MPD officer.
Memphis Police Officer Clarence Campbell, the organizer of the basketball tournament, said he feels so horrible for what happened last night.
"It's very unfortunate," Campbell said. "Just trying to get through. We just trying to press through. All our prayers go out to the family, to the New Orleans Fire Department, to the city of New Orleans and the City of Memphis. We lost a great guy."
Howard was a nine-year veteran of the fire department, with a wife and two children.
The tournament was organized to bring law enforcement, firefighters, and military members together from all over the country.
Campbell has played against Howard for years in tournaments like this one.
"We lost a great guy," Campbell said. "A very competitive guy. He was honestly the first one in the gym here when we started."
Loved ones who made the trip with the teams were shocked by the news.
"Two fools essentially took somebody's life who had nothing to do with their situation," said Holly Smith, who is visiting from Atlanta. "It's just sad because it's a firefighter, he's here to protect you."
"When we first got here, everybody said a prayer for him," said Florence Stephenson, also from Atlanta. "Somebody spoke on behalf of the team and they all had a prayer and just a prayer for his family."
The New Orleans team dropped the tournament after Howard's death. There were thoughts of canceling all of Saturday's games, but the players decided to play on in honor of Howard.
"Talking to the players they said, 'keep going please, let's have it again next year, we're doing this for him,'" Campbell said.
The sheriff's office said they are investigating, and no one is in custody at this time.
Investigators are reviewing surveillance video from nearby businesses to identify the suspects who killed a young hero, visiting Memphis to compete, who will not be going home to his family.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Gregory Howard and to those of the New Orleans Fire Department. We will fully support the Shelby County Sheriff's Office with this investigation and we will assist by all means necessary," said Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings.
If you have any information, call Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.