Fire Marshal closes club

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Opp City Council on Monday voted to hold off on a decision to revoke the business license of a local club, but the state fire marshal’s office showed less restraint, handing down a cease-and-desist order that night for the Little Harlem Club on Hardin Street.

The order comes less than two weeks after an early-morning shooting at the club left 20-year-old Demetrice Hines dead and four others wounded.

In the wake of the violence, Opp Chief of Police Mike McDonald, in a formal letter to Mayor John Bartholomew, requested the club’s license be revoked. McDonald said Hines’ June 8 death marked the third homicide he has worked in or around the club in his 26-year tenure with the Opp Police Department.

During Monday’s meeting, Opp Fire Chief Cory Spurlin said he expected the cease-and-desist order after a fire marshal’s investigation into the club turned up “multiple violations and life-safety issues.” On Wednesday, Bartholomew said the order was the right move.

“It is good news for the community,” Bartholomew said. “But, it’s a tragedy that this young man had to die. It’s been called a mishap. It wasn’t a mishap; it was a tragedy.”

Bartholomew said the council’s decision to table the matter was made in order to allow more time to consider the proper method of enforcing any decision, but added any move to close the club is a positive one.

“The city does not need this type of environment,” he said. “With the murders and violence and drugs and alcohol – the city just doesn’t need that.”

While the cease-and –desist order will close the club until its owners can bring the facility back up to code, the council’s decision on whether or not to pull its business license is expected no sooner than its next meeting, scheduled for Mon., July 7.