A wild gunfight in Compton's El Western Bar in which at least 25 shots were fired left three men dead and two wounded early today.
The dead were not immediately identified. Police said Jose Manuel Ortiz, 34, owner of the bar, and Jose Louis Madrid, 24, were wounded during the gun battle.
Compton Detective E. W. Smith said the bar has been the scene of several other gunfights. He said the walls were riddled with bullet holes even before the latest shoot-out.
Smith said the small barroom was crowded with about 45 men when the shooting began. Moments later, two men were dead just outside the bar, a third was dying inside and two, still standing but bleeding, were still inside the bar.
"We got 40 witnesses," Smith said, "and everybody says they were in the bathroom at the time."
Smith said the fight broke out when some customers got into an argument with a security guard who works at the bar. Ironically, although the guard was armed, he apparently did not fire his weapon.
Smith said two Compton police patrolmen were near the bar, heard the first shots and drove immediately to the scene. He said that as they stopped outside, firing was still going on and customers were pouring out onto the street.
The mortally wounded man died a short time later at Martin Luther King Hospital. Ortiz and Madrid were reported in stable condition at the hospital. On the door of the locked bar this morning was a sign: "No Armas. No Drogas. Gracias."
In English, it means: "No Guns. No Drugs. Thanks."