April 22, 2014 9:54:25 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
Club Rock will remain closed until at least late May after an Oktibbeha County Circuit Court Judge continued a public nuisance abatement against the nightclub's owner Larry Fair on Monday.
Judge Jim Kitchens delayed the hearing until Fair hires an attorney, an act the nightclub owner said he is in the process of finalizing. Because of his trial schedule, Kitchens said the hearing could be delayed until late May or early June.
A temporary restraining order filed against the business' operation will remain in effect until the hearing. Kitchens approved an injunction requested by Assistant District Attorney Mark Jackson against Club Rock on April 11 in an ex-parte hearing -- both parties were not present when the matter was filed.
An affidavit associated with the request filed by the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department stated deputies received credible information that a retaliatory shooting had been planned and was ready to be carried out at the nightclub in response to a March shooting that injured five people.
Four victims were treated for their injuries locally and released, but 18-year-old Zacharias Blanchard continues to recover from a head wound. He was last listed in stable condition at UMC Medical Center in Jackson. Sheriff Steve Gladney told Kitchens that Blanchard is expected to survive his injury.
The nuisance petition states Fair performed, permitted or allowed improper and illegal activity to occur at the Rockhill Road establishment and refused to correct or prevent those actions despite numerous warnings.
Relief sought includes revoking or suspending any Club Rock business licenses and closing the establishment and others operated by Fair with similar allegations. If the court allows the nightclub to continue operations, the petition asks that Fair be required to take measures to prevent illegal activities at the site.
Kitchens told Fair he could return to the property -- a nearby, family-owned beauty salon may also resume business, the judge said -- but Club Rock cannot operate in its usual capacity until the restraining order is lifted.
Kitchens also advised Fair to move quickly on hiring an attorney as he would likely not continue any further hearings.
Based on witness interviews, investigators believe a crowd of approximately 1,000 people were gathered at Club Rock when at least 20 gunshots from three separate areas of the facility's parking lot were fired about 2:20 a.m. March 30.
Investigators turned their attention to "community chatter," or second-hand information, after uncooperative witnesses failed to yield information.
At Gladney's behest, the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors began crafting a nightclub ordinance that, if approved, would close facilities by 1 a.m. and force loiterers off property 30 minutes later.
District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard said he would do what is necessary to close Club Rock due to the establishment's history of debauchery and numerous residents' complaints.
After Monday's trial was continued, Fair said numerous security guards were at the establishment March 30; however, it's impossible to predict when situations like the shooting will occur, he said.
"I think I did everything possible I could do besides invade someone's rights by going inside their car," he said.
When asked about neighborhood complaints, he said residents "haven't said anything to me."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch