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OCSD seeking limits on nightclub hours

 

Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney speaks to media on Thursday morning about a shooting that occurred at Club Rock early Sunday morning that left five people injured.  Gladney joined Kizmet Hamilton and David Blanchard, parents of victim Zachariah Blanchard, in a public plea for community members to come forth with information about the incident.

Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney speaks to media on Thursday morning about a shooting that occurred at Club Rock early Sunday morning that left five people injured. Gladney joined Kizmet Hamilton and David Blanchard, parents of victim Zachariah Blanchard, in a public plea for community members to come forth with information about the incident. Photo by: Mary Alice Weeks/Dispatch Staff

 

Zacharias Blanchard

Zacharias Blanchard

 

 

Carl Smith

 

Oktibbeha County sheriff's deputies are developing new rules limiting nightclub's operating hours, a move similar to one approved by Lowndes County last year, after a Sunday shooting at Club Rock left five people injured.  

 

Sheriff Steve Gladney said the county will work with supervisors to develop rules to curtail problematic activities at businesses in the county. Investigators also identified the last hospitalized victim from the Sunday shooting as 18-year old Zacharias Blanchard, of Starkville. 

 

Blanchard is listed in stable condition at University Medical Center in Jackson. 

 

"I want the citizens of Ok to know we're not taking this lightly. We're doing everything we can to make sure we correct these problems, and we're going to do that," Gladney said at a press conference this morning. 

 

OCSD Commander Brett Watson confirmed Blanchard was shot in the head during the incident. 

 

Few leads have emerged from the investigation, Watson previously told The Dispatch. Although numerous people were present in the facility and near the crime scene, Club Rock's parking lot, many said they did not hear or see anything that morning, he said. 

 

Officials pleaded with the public to assist in the investigation. Club Rock's crowd, based upon witness interviews, was estimated by investigators in excess of 1,000 people, he said. 

 

"With the large crowd there, we know somebody saw something," Gladney said. 

 

Watson said OCSD interviewed 30 witnesses from the incident. More than 20 gunshots were fired from three separate areas at Club Rock's parking lot, he said, based on a narrative built from community chatter, not direct interviews. 

 

"We need you to come forward to help us to bring justice to the individuals involved in the shooting," Watson said.  

 

Investigators did not release descriptions of suspects or a possible get-away vehicle. Four others injured in the shooting were treated and subsequently released from area hospitals. 

 

Reports of nefarious activities at the club have drawn the ire of OCSD representatives in recent years, as Watson confirmed deputies are accustomed with being dispatched to the area. 

 

County supervisors voted in 2011 to seek a temporary injunction against the nightclub after police and fire representatives said the business was a safety hazard. In December of that year, then-Sheriff Dolph Bryan played a video to supervisors that documented the chaotic moments after the venue's crowd, panicked by gunfire, attempted to flee in unison through a half-blocked exit.  

 

Supervisors agreed to develop an ordinance regulating capacity and enforcing safety codes at venues that do not have alcohol licenses, but tougher rules did not come to fruition. 

 

Lowndes County supervisors approved a 1 a.m. end to nightclub operations in August with a rule that also applies to community, recreation, convention and multi-purpose centers serving alcohol and providing activities, including live music and dancing. Restaurants and bars that provide such entertainment during any portion of its operation were also reined in by the ordinance. 

 

Patrons, under the law, are required to leave the premises shortly after closing. 

 

The rule came to fruition after Lowndes County Sheriff Mike Arledge lobbied supervisors for stiffer regulations due to littering, public intoxication, disorderly conduct and code-compliance issues. 

 

District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery said he would support any request made by Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney.  

 

"He's the expert on this. If our deputies are basically going out there for calls every time a large event is held, then that's basically forcing the taxpayers to support public security for a private business,"Montgomery said. "It's time we take a look at this issue." 

 

"Club Rock is an every-weekend problem," District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard told The Dispatch in 2011.

 

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch

 

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