Fatal shooting outside The Comedy Store leaves one audience member dead

A lone gunman approached an audience member on the patio outside The Comedy Store early Wednesday morning, shooting and killing him before running away across the Sunset Strip and south down Olive Drive.

Nobody else was injured, although several comedians were on the patio, too, when the killing happened around 12:49 a.m. today.

“There were like seven comics out there, but he was on a mission to get that dude,” comedian Brandt Tobler told The Comic’s Comic. Tobler said the gunman shot the audience member about five times. “He didn’t say a word, then he ran across the street and disappeared.”

Other witnesses reported hearing anywhere from five to seven gunshots, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The victim, whose identity has not been released, was a black man in his mid-20s pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The motive for the shooting remains unknown.

Anyone with information was urged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

UPDATE: The Comedy Store will be closed tonight, and issued these statements via Twitter Wednesday afternoon…

“The Comedy Store will be closed tonight, October 14, 2015, because of a tragic homicide last night outside of our venue. We are cooperating with law enforcement to assist their investigation in every way possible. We intend to reopen very soon and will let everyone know our schedule in a timely manner. We are shocked and saddened that something like this happened outside our venue and are doing everything possible to assist our employees, patrons and law enforcement to ensure we remain the safe and entertaining venue we have been for over 4 decades.”

The Comedy Store had been scheduled to have shows up until 2 a.m. this morning in the Original Room. The club’s Belly Room, meanwhile, was playing host to the weekly late-night Roast Battle, where nobody is meant to get physically hurt — just the comedians’ egos get bruised. By each other. Sources tell The Comic’s Comic that the victim had attended the Laff Mobb showcase in the club’s Main Room (which began at 9 p.m.).

Word began circulating about the shooting inside the club at the very end of the Roast Battle, where Jeffrey Ross and Anthony Jeselnik had arrived late after flying back from their Oddball Festival gig in Northern California.

The Roast Battle was broadcasting its “Main Event” live on Periscope between comedians Kimberly Congdon and Jay Light, and the final-round judging was taking place when club employees interrupted.

“It’s not like someone got shot,” Ross joked in an eerie moment of bad timing, just before one of the club’s bouncers/security guards grabbed a microphone to announce: “Listen. When this is over, everyone has to stay here, because there is a dead guy on the front patio.” The crowd, not knowing it’s not a joke, laughed. “They’ve got the whole fucking place taped off. Everyone stays up here.”

Tobler posted on Facebook this morning after sitting in the police station for five hours: “I have never been that close to that kind of violence and it was something I will never forget. It was so scary and very sad. I guess you never know when you are going to die, but I am glad today was not my day.”


The scene as seen of the back parking lot at the club, posted at 1:12 a.m. PDT by comedian Gordon Downs, who wrote: “Shooting at The Comedy Store. Cops won’t let anyone leave.”

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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