Slain students' mothers sue Volcano's owners They seek $100 million in shootings outside club

April 04, 1997|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

The mothers of two college students who were fatally shot outside Volcano's nightclub in October filed a $100 million lawsuit yesterday against the club's owners, claiming their illegal operation of the popular nightspot led to the deaths.

City officials closed the club, in the 1000 block of Greenmount Ave., after the shootings, citing the owners for infractions including operating a dance hall without a permit. Five people have been killed and 16 wounded outside Volcano's in the past three years.

Donte Young, 22, a student at Coppin State College, and Lori McDaniel, 19, a student at Morgan State University, were among hundreds of people leaving the club about 1: 45 a.m. Oct. 24 through a side door onto Dane Street, a fenced alley that penned them in. Police said a gunman fired into the crowd, hitting McDaniel and Young in the head and five other people -- including the son of a city liquor board official -- in the legs and arms.

Detectives said that 600 to 700 people were in Volcano's that night.

Attorney A. Dwight Pettit, who represents Young's mother, Bonita Johnson, and McDaniel's mother and stepfather, Joan and Benjamin Washington, said Volcano's management had sent the crowd into "a funnel of death." He said club management opened the door into the alley when it knew there had been shooting in front of the club and that police were having trouble controlling the crowd.

"Business owners have a responsibility," Pettit said yesterday. "There should be some type of message sent that you cannot create these dangerous conditions."

Kevin Lamont Richardson, 25, was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in the killings after a witness came forward. His trial is scheduled for June 16.

Named as defendants in the suit are the club; Ioannis "Crazy John" Kafouros, a businessman who owns the Volcano's building; and Donna K. Bishop, Kafouros' ex-wife, who held the liquor license.

After the October killings, Kafouros said the resulting publicity was so damaging that he would not try to reopen the club.

Pettit said he has put the city on notice that it may be named in the suit as well for allowing the club to regularly violate regulations.

For years, records show, scant action had been taken against the club by the Baltimore liquor board -- even as the nightclub was becoming well-known among police and neighbors for its periodic violence and nude dancing.

Liquor board officials have said they never moved to revoke or suspend the bar's license because neither neighbors nor police asked them to do so.

Johnson said yesterday she was bringing the suit so that other young people would not be caught in the kind of situation that took her son's life.

"It will help ease my mind," she said. "This has been going on for a long time in that club."

Pub Date: 4/04/97

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