Man injured in Blue Martini shooting gives his side of story

Andrew Cooks calls for charges to be filed against gunman

By Todd Tongen - Anchor/Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A man who was shot at Blue Martini in Fort Lauderdale earlier this month is giving his side of the story.

Andrew Cooks' brother-in-law was killed in the May 8 shooting. 

Cooks' attorney said it was illegal for former DEA agent Andre Clark, 52, to have a firearm inside the Blue Martini lounge.  

That law may be open to interpretation depending on whether the establishment is considered a bar or a bar and restaurant. 

Regardless, Cooks and his attorney want to see charges against Clark for the fatal shooting.

Cooks said he was shot in the stomach. His brother-in-law, Arnold Persons, 43, was killed in the late night shooting just before he was about to turn 44.

Cooks said a group of about 20 friends and family were at the lounge for a life celebration of his sister-in-law. 

Cooks said he saw Persons grab Clark's arms and, as the two struggled, he saw the muzzle flash and realized someone had brought a gun into the club.

"After they lost their balance and fell to the floor to the right, that's when I realized the shots started, went off, and that's when I realized that he had his arms for a reason -- you know -- trying to protect everybody else or, you know, keeping him from the weapon that he had. So that's when I realized I was shot," Cooks said.  

Persons' family spoke to reporters last week and they feel the same way as Cooks. However, Fort Lauderdale police said the Broward County State Attorney's Office will make the decision whether to charge Clark after a thorough investigation. 

Clark's attorney said surveillance video from inside the club will show his client was simply defending himself in accordance with Florida's "stand your ground" law.

"Andre was legally justified in the shooting," attorney Jeffrey Neiman said in an email. "As a retired federal law enforcement officer, he was permitted to have a handgun with him at the time. He was not the aggressor and he acted in self-defense. That said, this is a horrific tragedy for all involved, and Andre is grateful that Mr. Cooks' injuries were not life-threatening."

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