WJTV News Channel 12 - New Details: Reaction after Phoenix nightclub shuts down

Order effectively closes Phoenix nightclub

New Details: Reaction after Phoenix nightclub shuts down

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - Greenville police went to an area nightclub and served the owner with an injunction Thursday night.

In cooperation with the ALE division of the SBI, the Pitt County ABC and the state ABC Commission, they obtained the injunction due in part to a long pattern of criminal activity relating to the Phoenix nightclub.

Greenville Police Chief Hassan Aden said the turning point in getting the injunction was a triple stabbing from last week.

Friday, the North Carolina Alcohol and Beverage Commission released documents detailing what has led up to them suspending the club's license.

Inside the documents there are several witness accounts about several stabbings that happened inside the club on Saturday. The documents say two of the three people stabbed on Saturday were under 18 years old.

The mother a 16 year old stabbed told 9 On Your Side she is relieved the club is shut down. She doesn't know how her son was let it but now this can be an example for Uptown Greenville.  
     
"This will be an example for other business owners to take a look at what's going on in their businesses and try not to have the same things going on," said Phylissa Belcher, "If it is going on, us as parents have to be the ones to come together and say we don't want this, we can't allow this."

The ABC Commission said the incident combined with past issues of criminal activity led them to suspend the business' liquor license.
Police had been keeping an eye on criminal activity stemming from inside the establishment for some time.

"Since 2003 there's been over 800 incidents attributable to Phoenix nightclub,' said Aden. "The city has spent over $300,000 in police resources and other resources in addressing the issues so this a great closing of a chapter Uptown Greenville."

Sgt. Joe Friday said that since August 2009, police have been called for service to 209 East Fifth Street, the nightclub's address, over 200 times. In that same time frame, police said there have been 54 arrests, 28 cases of assault and 27 fights. Police also said the statistics do not include the altercations that began in the club and then continued outside of it.

Once served, the owner of a nightclub voluntarily handed over all alcohol permits.

Aden said because of the injunction, "The Phoenix nightclub as it exists today is closed." The Chief said Uptown Greenville has been a priority since his first day on the job and believes the actions taken today immediately make the area safer.


Greenville mayor Allen Thomas said the closure of Phoenix Nightclub is a step closer to ensuring the safety of people who come to enjoy Uptown Greenville.

“The issues were specific to this location here on the doorsteps to our University and our downtown area and we just could not have that anymore," said Mayor Allen Thomas. Thomas said, while the city has known about the issues with safety at the club for years, unless they had specific evidence of illegal issues inside the club, they couldn't shut them down.

Even if the closure hadn't happened Thursday, 9 On Your Side learned it was already scheduled to be shut down.

Thomas said the owner of the building had contracted with other parties to sell the building once the tenant's three year lease was up. Now, the transition of the building into a different type of business may happen sooner than later.

“There has been a slow progression of those big box clubs,” said Mayor Thomas. “This is the last of the big box areas of that's now under contract to be used for something else.“

The Management of the Phoenix Nightclub released a statement Thursday night regarding its closing, saying there will be no further comments from The Phoenix to the press regarding thes matter:

"After more than 6 years of operation, the Phoenix Nightclub surrendered its ABC permits to authorities today. The club will cease operation effective immediately.

The Phoenix filled an important role in providing minority members of the community a nightclub that catered to their individual taste in music and entertainment. Since the day that model went into effect, The Phoenix has been the target of police and local officials and their attempts to shut down the club.

The Phoenix was a leader among bars in Greenville by cooperating with police in doing everything possible to provide a safe environment.  It was the first club to do anti gang and gang recognition training with its employees, under the watch of the Greenville Police Department and Alcohol Law Enforcement and Alcoholic Beverage Control officials.  The Phoenix regularly employed uniformed off duty police to provide security at the club in an attempt to provide a safe experience for its customers.

When Greenville Police expressed concern about activities outside the club after closing times, The Phoenix installed a sophisticated multi-camera video tape system to monitor and record activity. The Phoenix regularly provided that video evidence to police when it was requested.

The Phoenix has been a convenient target at which to assign blame for many of the criminal acts occurring downtown.  However, we are proud of our record of cooperation with the City, and our commitment to being responsible citizens of the downtown community.  It is unfortunate that the City is now targeting bar owners in an attempt to eliminate a legitimate business class from being able to operate and earn a living.  The Phoenix was first. It will not be the last.
We would like to thank the people of Greenville for your patronage and support through the years."

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