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Charleston bar closes following weekend shooting

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he supports the state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration's decision to pull the liquor license for Sky Lounge after three bar patrons were shot early Saturday morning.

"I think that if you cannot contain what goes on in your place well enough to prevent people from shooting each other, you shouldn't have a license," Jones said during a news conference outside the Capitol Street bar Sunday afternoon.

Police responded to the shooting at about 2:25 a.m. Saturday morning to find three people shot. Police say an argument inside the bar escalated when the three were escorted outside. Once outside, an unknown person began to shoot. Two people -- Shawn Williams, 23, and Varryl Venson, 44, both of Charleston -- were shot while inside the bar. A third, William Wallace, 34, of South Charleston, was shot in the street. The shooter also was seen shooting into the ground at the back entrance of the bar, according to police.

None of the injuries were life threatening, police say.

The state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration has since pulled the liquor license for the bar. Owner Morgan Pauley said the bar would reopen under new management Oct. 3.

Jones said if the Charleston Police Department had more personnel, it would increase the patrols in the area.

"We have as much personnel as we can afford," Jones said. "We'll do what we can to prevent that and arrest people when it happens. But if that kind of activity keeps up, we'll just try to prevent the ABC[A] from giving out anymore licenses, or we'll ask the ABC not to give out any more licenses."

Morgantown city councilman Bill Byrne has recently suggested an earlier closing time for bars in his city, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. Business owners have not supported the idea.

Jones said ultimately the state has the authority to change the closing time for bars, not cities. The state could give that power to cities, he added.

"I don't think that's going anywhere and ... I don't believe home rule or any power we have lets us tell bars what time they have to close," Jones said.

Capitol Street has been a frequent site for late-night violence in recent months.

In July, a man was stabbed eight times in the stomach and chest at about 3 a.m. one Saturday in the 200 block of Capitol Street, according to police. Police say the incident could have resulted from an argument at Impulse, another Capitol Street club.

In August, a man knocked down another man and kicked him in the head and chest after a verbal altercation near the intersection of Capitol Street and Kanawha Boulevard, according to police.

The mayor said he wishes that Impulse would close.

"But they're not going to," Jones said. "When I first got a call on this, I thought that's what bar it was. Anytime you put two to three hundred people in a place and you sell them intoxicating beverages, I mean think about that. That's dangerous."

Pauley said she is taking steps to be sure Sky Lounge patrons are safe. The shooting happened on Capitol Street, not in her bar, she said.

"I'm sorry to all the victims who got shot but I'm not responsible for what happens on city property," Pauley said.

In addition to firing the manager and bringing in another manager, she is also discontinuing the use of DJs on the weekends, she said.

"I have noticed with the DJs we did have, the music can sometimes get people hyped up and sometimes it can turn to violence," Pauley said.

She said she did not know the shooter and the man had not been in the bar that night.

"When it does get late like that and that type of crowd comes in, they do get patted down." Pauley said. "We do have a security wand... I'm willing to do whatever to try to get that crowd out of there."

Pauley, 27, said, said she wants the martini lounge to be a place where young entrepreneurs and business people can come and hang out.

"I don't support any of this ignorance and violence at all," Pauley said "I want people to know that." Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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