Police send message with raid at Towson club Nine cited on parking lot for alcohol violations

June 15, 1996|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Yesterday's raid in Towson conveyed a message rather than showed muscle, but that's exactly what Baltimore County police hoped to accomplish.

In an action praised by neighborhood residents, more than a dozen officers descended on Club 101, an after-hours club that has been the target of complaints from neighbors and others of alcohol, narcotics and weapons violations. The 2 a.m. operation lasted three hours.

Police issued nine citations for alcohol violations in the club's parking lot off East Joppa Road.

Owner John A. Giorgilli said police might have been harassing the club in the aftermath of the Cannonball Run, a recent road race from the club to Ocean City that raised concerns with police.

Wayne Skinner, a board member of the Towson-Loch Raven Community Council, praised the police.

"Now they know we will be here and we're not going to put up with violations," said Maj. Michael H. Stelmack, commander of the Towson precinct.

The club, which draws hundreds on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, has become a magnet for young people. When bars close at 2 a.m., the club, which is open until 5 a.m., is bustling.

On the early morning of the raid, the Club 101 parking lot was reminiscent of Towson Town Center at Christmas time, as drivers cruised the lot for any available space.

A truck sold submarine sandwiches and snacks outside the front door, where bouncers collected the $8 cover charge and checked to make sure those entering were 18. Patrons who are 21 can bring alcoholic beverages into the club, which does not have a liquor license. Problems arise when people aren't admitted to the club, Giorgilli said.

"When they're barred from the club, they sit in the lot," he said. He worried that the police activity would deter people from visiting the club he opened in June 1993.

Police remain concerned -- particularly in light of a May 31 shooting a few blocks from the club.

Court charging documents said an argument began inside Club 101, which holds 600 people. After the victim -- Drema White of an unknown address -- left the club, he was shot in the shoulder by a man who had been there.

In light of the shooting -- and what police say is drug dealing and underage drinking on the lot -- they increased scrutiny beyond roving patrol cars early yesterday.

Police cars and marked four-wheel-drive vehicles gathered outside the nearby Merritt Athletic Club for the assault. Undercover officers who witnessed problems outside Club 101, summoned officers, who arrived quickly.

The problems may end in fall 1997, under a proposed zoning agreement requiring the club to close because it is so close to a residential area. Those involved in the negotiations, which have included Giorgilli, say a verbal decision was reached at an April 12 hearing, but legal papers have not been signed by the parties.

The club owner said he is looking at two other locations -- one in Towson, the other in the White Marsh-Rosedale area.

Pub Date: 6/15/96

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