A recent gun battle behind the Medusa nightclub in Northeast Plaza on Buford Highway led city officials to revoke the club’s alcohol license. The shootout is just once instance police cite in a crackdown on increasing violence and incidents at many of the city’s late-night venues.
According to a May 13 Brookhaven Police report, gunfire was exchanged shortly after 3 a.m. at Medusa between some people belonging to a group kicked out of the club for disorderly behavior and two of the club’s security guards. Three people were injured and more than 20 shell casings were gathered, according to the report.
During the investigation of the shooting, police say, they discovered that the two security guards — Thaddeus Tigner and Shayquan “Quan” Gooding — did not have the required state license to work as armed security guards.
“It is in the interest of the public’s safety and well-being that Medusa’s alcohol license is revoked,” said City Manager Christian Sigman in a July 12 press release. “Clear violations of city and state law that pose a danger to the residents and businesses of Brookhaven have occurred at this establishment.”
An owner of Medusa who declined to give his name said he had no comment when reached by phone.
Medusa has the right to appeal the revocation to the city’s Alcohol Board. That appeal must be exercised within 15 days of the notice to avoid closing the business, and the appeal hearing must happen with 30 days of the appeal, according to the city.
This is believed to be the first time the city has revoked an alcohol license, according to city spokesperson Ann Marie Quill.
The city is also considering an overhaul of its alcohol ordinance, including rolling back hours, and City Council is expected to discuss the recommended changes at its July 25 meeting.
Currently, last call for late-night venues is 2:55 a.m. with closing at 3:30 a.m. Restaurants may also stay open until 3:30 a.m., but are supposed to stop serving alcohol at 12:30 a.m.
Brookhaven’s proposed ordinance rewrite would set the city’s last call for all venues serving booze at 2 a.m., with a closing time of 3 a.m., to be in line with surrounding cities. Police officials say earlier last calls could also help curtail violence as well as DUIs, especially on Buford Highway.
The 2 a.m. last call would put Brookhaven in line with bar closing hours in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, according to Brookhaven Police Chief Gary Yandura.
The Medusa shooting is one of many violent incidents that have occurred in recent months at nightclubs, many located in Northeast Plaza on Buford Highway, according to a presentation made by police at the June 29 City Council meeting.
A stabbing that occurred in the Rush Lounge parking lot as the club was closing about 3:15 a.m. in July 2016 resulted in one victim being taken to the hospital and the arrest of two suspects, according to the presentation.
Police say aggravated assaults are occurring at locations after clubs have closed, including a stabbing on May 21 at a McDonald’s on North Druid Hills Road at 2:30 a.m. A shooting at the Waffle House on Buford Highway on Feb. 27 at 4:20 a.m. happened after a crowd went there after leaving Rush Lounge, police stated.
According to police, between Jan. 1, 2016, and May 15, 2017, there were 291 incidents reported at 10 late-night venues, nine of which are located on Buford Highway and in Northeast Plaza. The other is the Pink Pony on Corporate Boulevard, visible from Buford Highway.
Of those 291 incidents, 202 of them, or 69 percent, occurred between midnight and 6 a.m., according to the police presentation. Of those 202 incidents, 63 happened between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., police said.
There were 235 DUI incident reports between Jan. 1, 2016 and May 15, 2017, with 153 reports, or 65 percent, of those occurring between midnight and 6 a.m., according to police. Of the 153 reports, 47 of them happened between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.
“Of the DUI incidents between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., 72 percent of the offenders lived outside the city of Brookhaven,” the police presentation states.
The presentation added, “This analysis demonstrates that police presence increases dramatically the longer each alcohol serving establishment remains open and spikes between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.”
City officials are also looking at other ways to crack down on nightlife and police incidents. The Brookhaven Planning Commission on July 5 voted to not recommend approval of a special land use permit for a new late night club at 3303 Buford Highway in Northeast Plaza due to the proliferation of such venues.