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Police Beat: Tier Nightclub stabbing the deadliest in a series of recent attacks

July 1, 2014

An Orlando man died after being stabbed in the stomach during a fight at Tier Nightclub early Monday morning, police said. It’s the deadliest outcome in a series of vicious attacks over the past eight days.

By the time units made it to the scene of the downtown Orlando dance club, an off-duty OPD officer was putting handcuffs on Gavin Brown, 35. Lying nearby in front of the establishment was Jerry P. Smith, Jr., 28. He was drifting in and out of consciousness, clutching a bloody lower-stomach wound. Officers said that they applied direct pressure to staunch the bleeding before calling the Orlando Fire Department for assistance. Smith was rushed to surgery and later died.

WFTV Channel 9 reported that Smith was a popular local DJ by the name of “Disco JR,” and that he was a father of five. According to a police report, security officer Samuel Dade said he saw two men fighting in the VIP section of the club. He grabbed one and escorted him out, and the other man ran for the door. By the time Dade wrangled his catch out of the building, he saw the other man outside, bleeding profusely from the abdomen. Another security guard found a knife laying on the floor where the altercation occurred.

The off-duty OPD officer said he witnessed Smith stagger out of the door and fall in his direction. At about the same time, Dade was sitting Brown on the curb. Smith allegedly pointed at Brown and said, “He stabbed me – he did it.”

Brown was arrested for aggravated battery with a weapon, and homicide charges are pending. No bond was issued.

A week earlier, on the night of June 26, police reported another stabbing at the Coalition for the Homeless on Central Boulevard. Troy Floyd, 46, is said to have sliced the skin between Carlton Fesperman’s index finger and thumb after trying to pry the weapon from Floyd’s hand. Fesperman told police that Floyd had tried to stab him the night before, as well, and that Floyd said, “You called the police on me?” before attacking him in a doorway where Fesperman stood with his wife.

One witness recalled walking in on the two struggling on the floor, a silver Gerber-type tool with an unfurled blade in Floyd’s hand. Another witness, Coalition for the Homeless employee Ronald Hines, said that once the two were separated, Floyd tried leaving and angrily stated, “I have to go!” When Hines asked why, Floyd answered, “I’m the one who stabbed him!” Yet another witness noted that Floyd tried to jump a fence, and when asked why, Floyd said, “Because I stabbed the cracker.” Floyd was told there would be more trouble if he fled, so he obediently waited on the curb for Orlando police to come on scene and arrest him for battery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Earlier that afternoon, 56-year-old Arthur Burke told police that his landlord, a woman he called “Vonda,” had caused the second-degree burns on his neck and face. In a report, he claimed that the altercation stemmed from Vonda’s dislike of one of Burke’s house guests, another woman known merely as “Lil Momma” (that’s how it’s actually spelled in the report).  Vonda told Burke to get Lil Momma out of there, and Burke told Vonda to “stop playing and calm down.” That’s when Vonda allegedly threw gasoline on him, flicking a lighter and setting him ablaze. She supposedly began apologizing when he howled in pain.

Burke was unable to provide sufficient information about “Vonda,” and police said they could take further action when he was willing to say more. They also said, “It should be noted that Burke stated that he lives with Vonda, but only as a tenant, and he is not and never has had a domestic relationship with the suspect.”

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  • 79Pacer

    Not sure the purpose of clubbing. They all need to be closed down. They are useless facilities.

  • Brian Rewis

    The purpose is to have a place where people can go and dance and drink. You sound like the old people in Footloose.

  • seriously

    yeah but you’re trying to make it sound like a greek wedding. these aren’t good places where people go to dance. stop lying to yourself.