Police detectives were searching for clues Monday in an expensive nightclub in South Gate to piece together the details of a wild shootout that left five patrons and a security guard wounded.
Three gunmen dashed into the El Parral Club at 2800 Firestone Blvd. shortly after midnight and opened fire, critically wounding Maria Rufino, 20, of Long Beach, who was hit in the head by one of dozens of bullets that filled the air as the intruders exchanged fire with restaurant employees and guards.
One suspect is in custody after being captured in the parking lot by a South Gate police officer, who heard the gunfire while on patrol near the club and rushed to the scene. Two other men escaped in a pickup truck.
Domingo Castaneda, 27, of Colton is to be arraigned in South Gate Municipal Court Wednesday on one charge of attempted murder and several charges of assault with a deadly weapon, according to South Gate Police Detective Steve W. Moomey.
Police say they do not know what caused the attack, although they believe that shortly before the shooting Castaneda was turned away at the club after he underwent a search and was found to be carrying a weapon.
All El Parral patrons, both male and female, must submit to such a search before being admitted to the club, where a bottle of Remy Martin cognac sells for $159.
"This is a high-class place," said Robert Hernandez, who identified himself as the general manager and the nephew of the owner, Rosario Aguila, who also owns a smaller club directly across the boulevard. That club is named Casa Aguila.
City officials confirmed that the club's clientele is well-heeled and that backed up Hernandez's assertion that it is not unusual for a patron to spend $1,000 or $2,000 for a night's entertainment.
The price of a bottle of liquor includes the food and entertainment by well-known Latin bands.
El Parral used to be the Trianon Bowl, where workers from the nearby General Motors auto plant could play a few games and buy a beer for $1. The plant closed in 1982, and the bowling alley shut down shortly afterward. The club was opened in 1985.
Police were not sure of the identity of the injured security guard, who they said was 38 years old and in stable condition at County-USC Medical Center. South Gate police said that two cousins from Ensenada, Mexico, were also wounded. They were Jesus Limon, 28, who was treated at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and released, and Thomas Limon, 47, who is being treated for a chest wound at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.
Also injured were Arnold DeLaCruz, 26, of Huntington Park, who is being treated at USC, and Naomi Arreguin, who was treated at St. Francis Hospital for a bullet wound in the arm and released.