An argument inside Diamonds Lounge in Cumru Township early Friday turned into gunfire outside, ending with one person killed and three injured.
"There must be 15 to 20 shell casings down there," Cumru Police Chief Madison Winchester said from the township building. "It's a big crime scene, from the front parking lot to the back and sides."
The dead person and one of the victims were from the Lancaster area, and two other victims were from the Reading area, police said, but their names were not yet available. The death occurred at Reading Hospital.
Acting Coroner Jonn M. Hollenbach said the family of the deceased has been notified and the police or the DA's office would be releasing the name.
An autopsy is scheduled for Sunday in Reading Hospital, Hollenbach said.
The injured were being treated in the hospital's trauma center, Winchester said.
Police were called shortly after 2:30 a.m. and found 75 to 80 people at the hookah lounge at 360 E. Wyomissing Ave. in the Stabon Ponds Plaza between Shillington and Mohnton.
Numerous other departments were called to assist because of the large crowd, Winchester said.
Investigators were interviewing witnesses later Friday to piece together the sequence of events, the chief said.
"An altercation inside spilled outside and that's when guns were introduced," Winchester said.
The crime scene processing unit of the Berks County detectives office was called to gather physical evidence.
It appears there were multiple shooters, District Attorney John T. Adams said.
The lounge, which allows patrons to bring alcohol, has been an ongoing nuisance for the community, Adams said.
But while Adams' office can sometimes use violations of the state liquor code to get a nuisance bar shutdown, Diamonds does not have a liquor license, which has made it harder for his office and Cumru police to crack down on it, he said.
"We don't have the ability to lean on the (state police) LCE for help (since there is no liquor license)," he said.
Adams said this is the first time someone was killed there, though there have been other shootings and police incidents, including a report of shots fired there Jan. 25.
"Because they're not subject to state liquor license laws they operate at all hours and there have been frequent (police) calls there," he said.
"We are looking at legal avenues to close this business," Adams said.
The lounge's Facebook page describes it as offering live DJs and entertainment four days a week with "great service and chill vibes."
The owner, who identified herself as Angelise and declined to provide her last name, issued this statement:
"I would first like to express my sincere condolences to the family of the victim whose life was lost. My heart goes out to all of the victims, our customers, our staff and our community, as everyone was affected by this traumatic event.
"At this time we are actively participating with law enforcement to ensure justice is served. I would like to address the public at this time and state that Diamonds Lounge is a reputable establishment and we do not condone violence. We make every effort to make sure our customers are safe and will continue to do so."
Cumru police said further information would be released as the investigation progresses.
Anyone with information can call Cumru police at 610-777-9595 or stay anonymous by calling a tip to Crime Alert Berks County at 877-373-9913.