Two years after the city shuttered his turbulent nightclub due to a history of violence, club owner John Barlow faces another round of questions following the fatal shooting early Sunday of a man inside his latest club, Epic.
A police investigation of the shooting following a concert by rapper Yo Gotti will eventually present details to the city’s business licensing office to determine if sanctions against Barlow, developer Ned Abdul and two other part owners of the club are warranted, according to a city spokesman. The case remained under investigation Monday.
A statement issued Monday evening on behalf of the club’s management pledged cooperation with the police investigation and said Epic operators were “reviewing all of our security processes to ensure we continue to provide as safe and secure environment as possible for all of our patrons.”
Tyrone Washington, 27, of Crystal, was shot at 1 a.m. inside the downtown club by a man he was arguing with, according to police. The shooter then fled. Police found the victim on the sidewalk. He was known to police officers from his repeated arrests for drug dealing, primarily marijuana.
“He did have an extensive record … but he was on track to do some things that were positive,” said V.J. Smith, president of the Minneapolis MAD DADS chapter. “I know his mom is a very hardworking mother, and that she definitely did not condone any negative activity in his life. She’s hurting very badly about it,” said Smith, who added that he’s helping the family prepare a funeral.
The Epic statement offered condolences and prayers to Washington’s family.
Violence trails Yo Gotti
The shooting is only the latest outbreak of violence at a concert by Yo Gotti, whose real name is Mario Mims. A rapper from Memphis, Mims has numerous songs about violence, drug dealing and shooting people who don’t respect him.
He was charged with aggravated riot in 2010 following a shootout at a Memphis club. The charges were eventually dismissed. A man was shot and killed inside a north Memphis club at Mims’ Christmas party last year. A concertgoer was shot to death in Albuquerque, N.M., in June 2012. A woman shot and killed another woman outside a concert in Newport News, Va., in August.
Smith wondered on Monday how the performer lives with the fact that so many of his fans have been shot.
“How do you wake up every day excited about the work that you do when it kills people?’ he asked. “You’re no better than a drug dealer or somebody who robs people for a living. It’s sad.
“I’ve never been to a gospel concert when somebody got shot.”
City’s next steps
Hinting at the troubled history of Yo Gotti concerts, Police Chief Janeé Harteau said at a news conference on Sunday that she had added extra patrols to the nightclub area on Saturday night, to no avail.
“As a city I think we need to look at what types of events we allow in our downtown clubs,” Harteau said.
The Epic statement noted that the club had 40 security staff members and six off-duty Minneapolis police officers working Saturday night.
“We implement the most extensive security measures in the Warehouse District,” the Epic management said. “We have invested in metal detectors and security cameras. All patrons entering Epic are subject to search and security screening.”
It was too early Monday to determine what will happen to Epic as a result of the shooting, but City Council member and mayoral candidate Don Samuels said he would support closing the club if it can be done.
“This seemed to be an incident where violence was promoted and weaponry was allowed. That is a very volatile cocktail and clearly they have failed the test on this one,” he said.
Speaking specifically about Barlow, who is a former police officer, Samuels said, “This is not a Johnny-come-lately guy who’s being overwhelmed by the culture. He understands the business, he understands the law and he’s taking this city to the ultimate test for his own benefit and profit.”
His previous downtown club Karma closed in 2011 after the city declared it a public nuisance in response to numerous police calls and shootings on the street outside.