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ONLY ON 3: Murder victim's family speaks exclusively to WWAY

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Murder victim's family speaks exclusively to WWAY

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Wilmington Police are investigating the first murder of the year after a fight outside a downtown Wilmington bar early this morning. Police say as many as 40 people were involved in the fight outside the Rhino Club that killed one man and sent two more to the hospital.

Blood stained the curb along the 100 block of Market Street in downtown Wilmington Monday morning hours after a fight outside the Rhino Club.

Witnesses say a group of about 30 to 40 people left the club at closing time. That's when police say a fight broke out in the the street. Three men were stabbed during the brawl.

One of the victims, 20-year-old Taaron Jones was stabbed in the chest and pronounced dead at the hospital. His cousin, Jasmine Canty was with him Monday night. She says he was in an argument with a few people inside Rhino Club, but thought it was over when everyone went outside.

"I just saw him just standing there. I didn't see him doing anything. I just saw him standing there," Canty said.

She says she went across the street to Slice of Life, and when she came out he had already been taken to the hospital.

"I just went to the hospital. We waited in the hospital to see how it was going to go, and his mom came back and told me that he was gone, that he didn't make it," she said.

Jones's uncle said he heard about the news Monday morning at work. He says his nephew did not deserve to die.

"He had his faults just like any other kid," Ronald Lee Canty. "Whatever went on last night, I don't think it deserved his life or causing him to be dead today, but things happen."

Shortly after the stabbings, police say two men were shot in the 600 block of Emory Street. Investigators say that shooting may have been connected to the stabbings here on Market Street.

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