Police: Singer Chris Brown punched photographer at Tampa club

FILE - In this June 7, 2015, file photo, rapper Chris Brown performs at the 2015 Hot 97 Summer Jam at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Authorities said officers responded to singer Brown's Los Angeles home early Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016, after a woman called police seeking assistance. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Police say singer Chris Brown “sucker-punched” a photographer at a club in Tampa early Monday morning.

According to a Tampa Police Department report, Brown and his crew showed up to Club AJA in Channelside for a paid appearance, and punched Bennie Vines, Jr., a photographer who works for the club. The police report says Brown punched Vines for allegedly taking photos.

Brown had left the scene by the time police arrived.

Michael Donaldson watched the chaos unfold Sunday night. He couldn’t believe it got so bad, so fast.

“Things got out of hand. Things went south real quick. It happened so fast,” he told News Channel 8.

The 23-year-old is a DJ and usually performs in Ybor City, but, on this occasion, “DJ Turnt” was trying to network and branch out in the entertainment community.

He was excited to talk with fellow club-goers at AJA in Channelside. After all, Grammy award-winning superstar, Chris Brown, would be there. It seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Then, things got crazy in a hurry.

According to Donaldson, it happened in eight short minutes, and it was all caught on camera.

Brown arrived shortly after 1 a.m. with an epic entourage of 50 people. Eyewitnesses claim his bad boy behavior was on full display Sunday night after a sold-out show at Amalie Arena.

After the concert, the singer had a paid appearance at the nearby nightclub. What happened next had fans scared and disappointed.

A photographer hired by the club, Bennie Vines, was snapping photos of the venue and the crowd. That’s when Vines claims that Brown got angry and began punching him in the face.

The photographer maintains that Brown hit him so hard that his lip broke open and that he hit his head on the wall. Monday afternoon, the photographer was at a Brandon Hospital for medical treatment.

He says he’s hired a lawyer and plans to sue the singer.

When Donaldson witnessed the violence go down, he said he knew he had to get out – fast.

“You’ve got to get out. Once anything goes down, I’m a DJ, so I know. Your next step is getting out, ’cause you don’t know what’s going to happen next,” he explained.

Tampa Police are pouring through numerous cell phone videos that club-goers recorded of the incident. Once detectives finish the investigation, the case will be turned over to the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office.

Donaldson and other fans have a message for the superstar who they say got super violent in Tampa.

“The message to Chris would be to stay humble. Remember where you came from,” said Donaldson.

The club took to Facebook Monday afternoon to release a statement on the incident.