By Desirae Gostlin
CAROLINA NEWS & REPORTER
Vista bartender Holly Hill got off work late on the night of Sept. 16, intending to have a quick drink with her co-workers.
Hill was standing outside of Uncle Louie's and The Oyster Bar on Park Street with friends when she heard gunshots coming from a block away at Empire Supper Club.
"We didn’t want to believe that’s what was happening—that there were gunshots coming towards us. So I didn’t know what to do, and I just heard someone yell, “'Holly, run!'” she recalled. "So we all took off down the street away from where the gunshot sound was coming from, but they were faster than we were. The next thing I know someone from behind me pushes me down under a car that was parked."
Surveillance video from Oyster Bar shows Hill was standing just feet away from Denise Massey, a Kentucky fan in town for that weekend's game, when Massey was shot in the face.
"She was next to me. There were about three people within my arm span when I got pushed behind a car and she was one of them," said Hill.
Hill says that she was so overcome with panic she didn't know how to help the victim who was bleeding out next to her on the sidewalk. She was in such a panic after she dialed 911, she couldn't speak to the operator.
"I looked back to the woman, and my friend who was hiding behind the car across from me had taken his shirt off and started applying pressure to the wound on her face," said Hill.
Ambulances arrived shortly and took Massey to the hospital.
Hill still has flashbacks from that night and says her friends that were there with her have trouble coping with what they saw.
"It really could have been any of the four of us. And I was lucky enough that I had someone throw me under safety whereas she wasn’t so lucky, and she didn’t get down fast enough," said Hill.
Despite the fear Hill faced that night, she refuses to let that fear rule her life. She says that she returned to those very same bars the next night.
"I am very thankful for the business owners for reopening their establishments and bringing everyone in and allowing them shelter and phones and helping take care of us," Hill said. "Like I said, I’m here all of the time. So it is like a big family down here. And we like to take care of each other. It was very nice to know that there were so many people that when I was in that situation and didn’t know what to do, I had a support system to help take care of me and help keep me safe."
This was not the first incident to take place at Empire. Columbia police department cited 11 shootings at Empire and have since shut the club down, labeling it a public nuisance.
All eight victims from the shooting are expected to make a full recovery. The shooting is not being called a drive by shooting, but rather, a gunfight between two rival rap artists from Newberry. Four suspects have been arrested in connection with the shooting.