A 39-year-old bouncer is recovering in hospital after a shooting police describe as a "brazen act of violence" in downtown Vancouver early Sunday morning.

Witnesses say a man in a hoodie opened fire outside the Barcelona Lounge nightclub at around 1 a.m. after getting into a heated argument with the bouncer.

One clubgoer told CTV News he heard three gunshots before seeing the bouncer hit the ground with a bullet wound to his knee.

"The people that were close to the entrance went down and everybody at the back of the nightclub just kept partying," he said. "They didn't realize what was happening until the nightclub turned its lights on."

Several Good Samaritans, followed closely by police officers who had been patrolling the club, chased down and apprehended a suspect shortly after.

A 32-year-old Alberta man, who is known to police, was taken into custody. Const. Lindsay Houghton said he faces numerous weapons and assault-related charges.

"This incident shows a complete disregard for human life," Houghton said. "There were hundreds, if not thousands of people in the immediate vicinity."

The Vancouver Police Department's Major Crimes Unit was called to investigate. A forensic identification team processed the scene and a handgun was recovered, Houghton said.