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Old November 25th, 2006, 09:56 PM  
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Default Groom fatally shot by Police

Groom Fatally Shot by Police Outside Strip Club

NEW YORK (Nov. 25) - A bachelor party at a strip club ended early Saturday with police opening fire on a group of men leaving the establishment, killing a groom on his wedding day and wounding two others, one critically.

There was no immediate explanation for what sparked the shooting, which drew angry protests from family members and the Rev. Al Sharpton. The New York Police Department's chief spokesman, Paul Browne, declined to comment.

As many as eight officers may have been involved in the shooting near the Kalua Cabaret in Queens, said Sgt. Mike Wysokowski, another department spokesman. There were no reports that any officers were wounded, Officer Kathleen Price said.

"First it was like four shots," said Abraham Kamara, 38, who lives a few blocks from the scene of the shooting and said he was getting ready for work at the time. "And then it was like pop-pop-pop like 12 times."

The intersection where the shooting occurred remained blocked off Saturday afternoon as police inspected a car and a minivan and placed dozens of crime scene markers on the ground where shell casings had been recovered.

Denise Ford, who said her son was one of the survivors, said the trio's car had hit an unmarked police vehicle. Police did not immediately confirm that either of the vehicles in the intersection belonged to the department.

"All I know, they was celebrating," Ford said of the men. She said the man who died was the groom. "The guy was getting married today."

Relatives identified the man killed early Saturday as Sean Bell, 23. Sharpton said Bell and his fiancee had two children, ages 5 months and 3 years.

Sharpton said after visiting the two wounded men - Trent Benefeld, 23, and Joseph Guzman, 31 - that he was outraged to find the pair handcuffed to their hospital beds. He said one suffered 17 wounds, though it was unclear how many were bullet wounds, and the other man was shot three times.

"We're not anti-police ... we're anti-police brutality," Sharpton said.

Sharpton said family members told him that there were no guns in the young men's car and "there was no reason for the police to shoot."

"On the face of it, it seems to me to be certainly something that causes extreme alarm and must be thoroughly investigated," said the civil rights leader, who said he was called by a relative of Bell.

Robert Porter, who identified himself as a cousin of Bell, said about 250 people were invited to Saturday's wedding and were flying in from all over the country. He said his cousin wasn't the type to confront police and was "on the straight and narrow."

Roy Brown, who said he works as a photographer at the club, said sirens sounded not long after the three men left the club.

"They weren't rowdy or nothing like that," said Brown, 57.

The owner of the building, Juan Escobar, would not say who owned the Kalua Cabaret. A message seeking comment was left at a phone number listed for the club.

One of the wounded men was in critical condition at Mary Immaculate Hospital and the other was listed as stable.

In 1999, NYPD officers killed Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant who was shot 19 times in the entry to his apartment building. The four officers in that case were acquitted of criminal charges.

In 2003, Ousmane Zongo, 43, a native of the western African country of Burkina Faso, was killed during a police raid on a warehouse where he repaired art and musical instruments. Zongo was shot four times, twice in the back.

Associated Press writers Cristian Salazar and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

11/25/06 11:27 EST

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed

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