Chattahoochee Chatter: NPR puts spotlight on New Year's Day shooting at Club Majestic

March 20, 2013 

Let's start this edition of Chatter with the focus on gun violence in Columbus.

The New Year's Day shooting death of 24-year-old Charles Foster Jr. has been featured by National Public Radio in a story on gun violence.

According to NPR and host Melissa Block, Foster's shooting death was among the first on New Year's Day throughout the nation. He died of a gunshot wound to the chest after gunfire erupted at Club Majestic about 2 a.m. Six other men and women were wounded in gunfire at 2102 Cusseta Road.

The death of the Columbus State University student is part of NPR's look at "Guns In America: A Loaded Relationship." It appeared under the headline, "Among Thousands of Gun Deaths, Only One Charles Foster Jr."

Block spent a few days in the region talking to family members, Foster's professor at CSU, Columbus police, Muscogee County coroner and the Rev. Willie Phillips, who has led marches to shut down the nightclub.

Last week, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson won Columbus Council approval to revoke the alcoholic beverage license at the club also known as Majestic Sports Bar. The notice to revoke the club's liquor license followed a Feb. 4 letter starting the process to shut down the nightclub as a public nuisance.

Police have charged two young men in connection with Foster's death and wounding of six others.

The story aired at 5:06 p.m. Monday, on 91.7 FM in Columbus. It's still available on NPR's website. Just search for Charles Foster Jr. or Club Majestic.

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As the world marked the 10th anniversary of the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom this week, Lt. Gen. Robert Brown was fully aware of the naysayers who believe the effort was not worth the human and financial costs.

But Brown, former commanding general of Fort Benning and current commander of I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., expressed pride at what U.S. troops accomplished there in the name of freedom.

"When you were on the ground, there was no question the purpose of the operations in Iraq," Brown said in an interview a week ago. "The Iraqis wanted their freedom. They were constrained by a tyrant (Saddam Hussein) ... I never spoke to an Iraqi who wasn't grateful we were there, and didn't want the same thing we all want, a brighter future for their families, their children, and who weren't just ecstatic to get their freedom."

For Brown, a highlight of his time in the war zone came in the major city of Mosul in 2004, when elections took place with 11,000 U.S. soldiers safeguarding residents' newfound right to vote.

"We knew they would have the opportunity to vote, but we didn't know if they would," he said, recalling elderly residents venturing out to the polls.

"That was a very proud moment when you can bring freedom to a nation," the general said. "It may

not be democracy as we would like it. But as the Iraqis always reminded me: Look at how long it took you all to get democracy right. I'm just awful proud and I think it's quite amazing what our soldiers and leaders accomplished."

•••

Perhaps the best dedication request during the interactive Beatles tribute show "Yesterday and Today" at the Springer Opera House came during Friday night's performance.

Rick Bowers requested "The Long and Winding Road" in honor of his brother, Columbus Police Officer Ronnie Bowers, who was an 11-year veteran of the department and served in the motor squad. Ronnie died at 40 in October 2002 after seemingly recovering from life-threatening injuries he suffered while on duty during a December 2001 motorcycle accident.

Rick said the song always reminds him of his brother, whose birthday was May 11 -- the date "The Long and Winding Road" was released in the United States in 1970. It became the last of the Beatles' No. 1 hits.

As the Springer crowd swayed back and forth with their cellphones lighting up the darkened theater, Rick wiped tears from his eyes.

Rick posted a video of the tribute at www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4wgWL4aKbY.

•••

This may give new meaning to "one for the road."

Hardee's is now serving Jim Beam Bourbon Burgers, which feature a sauce flavored with Jim Beam Bourbon. No ID required. Hardee's says it is for "mature tastes." The burger also has onion straws, pepperjack cheese, lettuce and tomato. Supermodel Heidi Klum will soon be appearing in TV commercials promoting the burger.

We have not heard anything about a limit in the drive-thru.

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