Nightclub cancels events after shooting

Sunday night dances drew police complaints

April 06, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The managers of a Baltimore nightclub have canceled Sunday night dances after four people were shot near the Russell Street club early yesterday, renewing complaints from city police.

"This is a proactive move by my clients before they begin to feel the heat from the police and the community," said Frank Boston III, the lawyer for the Paradox nightclub, near PSINet football stadium.

Boston said the Sunday night crowd -- mostly patrons older than age 18 -- typically numbered in the hundreds. City zoning officials had allowed the club to remain open, despite protests from police, because they wanted a venue for young people,

But the shooting yesterday was the second in which the club was a factor in two weeks. A security guard was grazed by a bullet March 29. "The kids and teen-agers have spoiled it for themselves," Boston said.

Some nearby residents have left. "There's not many people down there still able to fight," said Ann Neus, a longtime business owner who used to call police about the Paradox.

Maj. Elmer Dennis, commander of the Southern Police District, said he was pleased with the club's decision. "Very good," he said, when informed. "That's wonderful."

The shooting occurred about 2 a.m. yesterday near the club in the 1300 block of Russell St. Dennis said four men between ages 20 and 28 were wounded while sitting in a Nissan.

Detective Randy Humes of the Violent Crimes Task Force said the shooting grew from an argument in the club. Details of the incident were sketchy.

Humes said the four victims were seated in the Nissan that had stopped at a railroad crossing in the 1300 block of Ridgely St. to allow a train to pass.

Humes said a gunman got out of an Oldsmobile stopped several cars behind them and fired at least eight rounds from a .45-caliber pistol, hitting all four occupants.

James Ward, 20, of Cherry Hill was hit in the back and was in critical condition yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Police said the other victims were not seriously wounded.

Dennis said none of the victims has cooperated with investigators and would not give a description of the shooter or shooters. "They said they were all in the car and next thing they knew they were shot," Dennis said.

Police said one of the wounded men ran from the car and collapsed on the steps of the Paradox.

Boston said that none of the victims had patronized the club and that the man at the steps had banged on the door and pleaded for help. But the lawyer said this latest shooting "was the last straw."

On March 28, an off-duty police officer from the Naval Academy working as a security guard at the club was grazed by a bullet outside. A female patron was shot and wounded last year while driving away from the club.

In June 1997, a Coppin State College student was severely injured when she was slashed with a razor blade on the dance floor.

That followed police complaints about "raves" -- parties that typically feature music and hallucinogenic drugs -- as well as raids in which detectives said drugs were recovered from the dance floor.

Pub Date: 4/06/99

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