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N.Y. Bouncer Charged In Shooting Spree

A bouncer was arrested Thursday on charges he shot four people — killing one — in an angry frenzy outside a Manhattan nightspot.

Stephen Sakai, 30, of Brooklyn, is being held on on murder, assault and weapons charges.

The New York Daily News quoted police sources as saying that Sakai had boasted of committing three other slayings. His claims are under investigation by the police, the newspaper said.

The Tuesday night shooting outside the Opus 22 lounge in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood touched off a manhunt for Sakai, who fled and was at large for several hours before surrendering to police early Wednesday. He spent the rest of the day being interrogated at a police precinct.

Police said the deadly confrontation involved a group of patrons who had been ushered out of the trendy nightclub in a converted warehouse near the West Side Highway.

It was unclear what prompted the gunplay. Some witnesses told television news reporters that the bouncer appeared to snap when one of the ejected patrons became belligerent.

In the frenzy that followed, Gustavo Cuadros, 25, of Red Bank, N.J, was shot in the head and died in the street, a few steps from the lounge's velvet rope.

Three other men, all in their 20s, suffered gunshot wounds to their necks, backs or legs. One was in critical condition, police said. The injuries of the two others were not believed to be life-threatening.

A spokesman for New York's Department of State said Sakai passed a criminal history check when he obtained a license to work as a security guard, but did not have a harder-to-get license allowing him to carry a gun on the job.

"I think it goes to highlight the problem of illegal guns," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the New York Times. "There's only one reason to carry a gun on the streets of a big city and that's to use it."

Tuesday's episode comes at a sensitive time for bar and nightclub owners, whose establishments have been facing greater scrutiny since the arrest earlier this year of another Manhattan bouncer on charges that he kidnapped and murdered a young female graduate student.

Imette St. Guillen, 24, vanished after being ejected from a tavern where she had stopped off for a late-night drink. Investigators said the guard there, Darryl Littlejohn, was a habitual felon with convictions for violent robberies but got the job by telling the bar's managers that he was a U.S. marshal.

The case prompted some City Council members to propose legislation that would require establishments serving alcohol to perform criminal background checks on security personnel, or make it easier to close places that had been the subject of repeated complaints.