Lucette Gamble, 47, right, talks about her son, Sean Devon Gamble,… (Algerina Perna, Baltimore…)
Sunday morning's fatal shooting near a west side club follows similar incidents at other downtown establishments in recent years, and city officials say it will lead to more discussion about security surrounding Baltimore's nightlife.
Since 2006, there have been several high-profile violent incidents at clubs including Velvet Rope, Suite Ultralounge and Club Choices.
"We've been having this conversation now for several years," said City Councilman William H. Cole IV. "We've had issues before, but we've managed to get the club owners to beef up their security and improve their procedures for letting people out."
The shooting at Select Lounge was the first major trouble for the club, which had been open since October. Liquor Board Chairman Stephan Fogleman said it hadn't generated any complaints to the liquor board. But it was another in a series of problems outside of downtown night spots.
In 2007, two men shot each other, one fatally, after leaving Club Choices, in the 1800 block of N. Charles St. The incident followed the slaying of a pregnant 19-year-old in 2006 outside of the same club.
In 2009, police closed Suite Ultralounge, a bottle club in the basement of the historic Belvedere Hotel in Mount Vernon, after it was deemed a public nuisance. The club had been the site of armed robberies, fights, and, in 2008, a stabbing and double shooting.
In March, police petitioned to shut down the Velvet Rope in the 200 block of E. Redwood St. after a fight broke out during a concert by the rapper Yo Gotti. Police also said earlier that month two patrons of the club were involved in a shooting near the Inner Harbor.
Historically, the area has battled with violence around closing time, when patrons leave club premises en masse, Cole said.
But he said the city had improved security by padlocking problematic venues, using the liquor board's enforcement strength and demanding clubs increase their security measures
"Police have put a lot of resources into these clubs to get people off the streets and into their vehicles," he said. "I do think, generally speaking, when you look at overall crime numbers, particularly downtown, Central District has done a wonderful job keeping visitors and residents safe."
The response from clubs has been less consistent, Cole said.
"It depends on the clubs and it depends on the night," he said. "Some of them do a very good job with private security."
Fogleman warned not to rush to judge Select Lounge, because it might be that the club had nothing to do with the altercation that broke out. "It's possible the club was caught in the crossfire," he said.
He said the shooting underscores why safety in the area continues to be a concern for the liquor board and law enforcement, but that it shouldn't discourage business.
"This was an isolated, perhaps very unusual incident," he said. "I don't think this makes downtown any less safe."
His inspectors will have to wait until police complete their report to see if any charges will be filed against the club.
With this most recent incident, Cole said, law enforcement and city officials will have to again rethink safety strategies for the area.
"We're going to have to take a very serious look at these clubs to make sure police have resources they need and that the clubs are contributing to keep their facilities safe."