LITTLE ROCK — The owner of a Pine Bluff nightclub that had its liquor permit pulled following a fatal shooting in the club's parking lot argued Tuesday that the permit should be restored because the incident was not something the club could have prevented.
LITTLE ROCK — The owner of a Pine Bluff nightclub that had its liquor permit pulled following a fatal shooting in the club’s parking lot argued Tuesday that the permit should be restored because the incident was not something the club could have prevented.
An attorney for the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board conducted violation hearings on the Three Gables nightclub in Pine Bluff and the Nest Lounge in North Little Rock, both of which recently had their permits suspended temporarily by ABC Director Michael Langley pending action by the ABC Board.
The board was not present for Tuesday’s hearings. It is expected to take action in both cases on Dec. 14.
Pine Bluff police officers testified that shortly after 3 a.m. on Nov. 13, Walter Ashley Jr., 39, was shot and killed in Three Gables’ parking lot on West Pullen Street. Trammell Moore, 18, and his brother, Joshua Moore, 22, were arrested and charged with one count each of capital murder and three counts each of first-degree battery, in connection with the non-fatal shootings of three other people at the club.
The shootings followed two fights at the club, police and security officers testified. Eric Williams, the head of security at the club, said he escorted Trammell Moore out of the club for fighting and told him to leave, but Moore returned and began firing a gun into a crowd of people outside the club.
After the shooting, Moore allegedly fled the scene in a car driven by his brother.
Langley suspended the club’s permit on Nov. 17 for violating the “good neighbor” requirement for permit holders. The club has been closed since.
Owner Stacey Knott said after the hearing she believes her club has been unfairly singled out.
“There’s been shootings and homicides all over the city, and it just seems like in this particular instance everybody wants to make a stand about the crime in the city. So I do kind of feel like we have been targeted,” she said.
Knott as well as the manager and security chief testified Tuesday that there was nothing more they could have done. Manager Andre Braswell said the club has four to six security officers who work inside the club, in addition to off-duty police officers who work security outside the club.
“You just can’t control people,” Braswell said. The club is on probation for two incidents that occurred there in September 2010. A homicide occurred outside the club in 2007.
Police said officers have been called to the club more than 140 times this year, for incidents that included reports of attempted rape, illegal possession of firearms by felons, disorderly conduct, discharge of firearms and other incidents.
Braswell testified that many of the calls were in response to burglar alarms or were the result of an officer calling for assistance. He said some locations have had far more calls, such as Walmart, where police have been dispatched more than 700 times this year.
“(Crime) happens all around Pine Bluff, period,” he said.
Several Pine Bluff residents who oppose restoring the permit attended the hearing but did not testify. The Rev. Jesse Turner, executive director of Interested Citizens for Voter Registration, said after the hearing the club has not done enough to protect the public.
“They are not really policing the area and making sure that when things happen that they take precautions to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Also Tuesday, Gerome Jefferson, who holds the permit for the Nest Lounge on MacArthur Drive in North Little Rock, appeared for a violation hearing.
Langley suspended the club’s permit on Nov. 21 after police went to the club shortly after 4 a.m. on Nov. 19 and seized cards, dice and three stolen guns. Officers also found people still drinking in the club, which is required by its permit to stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m.
The club is on probation for an incident that occurred in June, when police went to the club and found crack cocaine, marijuana and people drinking after hours.
Jefferson apologized for the latest incident. He did not dispute the allegations of police.