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Two innocent bystanders were shot, 1 killed, in shooting near Athens nightclub

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An argument among patrons of a nightclub ended in a deadly double shooting Saturday morning in Athens – only the two men who were shot turned out to be innocent bystanders.

Around 2:40 a.m. officers responded to 1720 Commerce Road in reference to a shooting, according to Athens-Clarke County police. They arrived to find two men suffering from gunshot wounds in the parking lot, spokesman Maj. Mark Sizemore said.

Officers rendered aid until EMS arrived and both men were transported by ambulance to the hospital. A short time later Derrick Merritt, 22, of Athens, succumbed to his injuries, Sizemore said. The other victim is receiving treatment for his wounds.

“Information obtained clearly indicates that the victims in this senseless act of violence were innocent bystanders and played no role in triggering the assault,” Sizemore said.

Merritt and Jamaris Walter, also 22 of Athens, were shot while standing in the vacant parking lot with other patrons following the closing of the nearby nightclub, Sizemore said. Walter remained hospitalized in serious condition late Saturday.

Police have learned that many people witnessed the double shooting and are asking them to continue to come forward with any information to help to identify those responsible.

Police are also asking for additional information concerning a light colored Ford Mustang and its occupants who were seen leaving the parking lot.

The Clarke County Coroner’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are insisting the police department in the investigation. So far, police have not said what the patrons were arguing about or how many may have been involved in the shooting.

Anyone with information concerning the shooting is asked to contact the Athens-Clarke County Police Department's Crime Stoppers Tip Line at (706) 613-3342. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those individuals responsible for this crime.