While Columbus police search for a suspect in the deadly shooting inside Club Majestic early Tuesday, authorities are investigating the club owner over reports of minors at the sports bar and other possible infractions.
Gunfire at the 2102 Cusseta Road nightclub left 24-year-old Charles Foster dead and five others with non-life threatening injuries. Many of those wounded were young men 16- and 17-years-old.
Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who also serves as the city's public safety director, said an investigation is underway to make certain the owner of the nightclub was in compliance with requirements of the law to have a business license.
"If any event is out of order, then of course we will take steps and shut the place down as the law will allow," Tomlinson said. "We are looking at the owner of the facility as we would in any such circumstance."
The mayor's comments came shortly after the Rev. Willie Phillips asked for help to shut down the business. The location was banned to Fort Benning soldiers in 2006 after a 23-year-old man died of gunshot wound to the chest in the parking lot.
"This should wake a lot of people up," Phillips said of the latest shooting. "We've got a bad problem over here. We've got to get rid of the problem. I believe once they get rid of that place, we will have quiet in this community."
Until authorities get a better handle on what's going on in the area, Tomlinson said she has requested additional police patrols in the area and to the club where the shooting occurred.
The mayor said she was notified by police Chief Ricky Boren after the shooting. The chief raised concerns about the ages of some witnesses in the incident, she said.
"They did mention to me there was some question in witnesses ages that raised red flags," Tomlinson said.
The investigation will be looking into all aspects of the law related to public safety. "Are they allowing minors into the facility. Have they had incidents before, fist fights or whatever the nature might be?" the mayor asked.
Authorities will look at a number of things to see whether the owners are being reckless in the way in which they are handling the business. "If they are and it's something the law prohibits, then we can take their license away, otherwise shut the club down," the mayor said.
Phillips, 52, said the club has been a magnet for criminal activity even when it was called the Boom-Boom Room. As president of Winterfield on the Move Against Drugs, Phillips said the neighborhood group frequently protests against the club during weekend marches at Brown Avenue and Cusseta Road.
"We can't live like this over here," he said. "I bought my house over 20 years ago. It's paid for. Why should I let them run me out of my neighborhood?"
Police Lt. Bill Rawn, who tracks crime across the city, said 53 crimes have been reported in the area from January through Nov. 30, 2012, including 10 at the club's address. There were no rapes, robberies or murders but two aggravated assaults, 21 burglaries, 29 larcenies and one car theft were reported. The area gets more calls for police than any other in the city, he said.
"One of the things you can say is these crimes would not have happened there if there hadn't been a business," he said. "What that business is doing is bringing an element to that area."
The owner of the business did not return a phone call seeking comment.