CLEVELAND — City officials are taking action against what they consider to be an illegal motorcycle club on the city's west side after police said an argument between a man and a woman escalated into a violent shootout that left seven people injured early Sunday morning.
City Council President Kevin Kelley, whose ward includes The Spot Night Club at 5100 Pearl Road, said Tuesday that the city's law department has deemed the club to be a public nuisance. Kelley also said police have identified at least one of the shooters involved in the incident. The illicit club immediately started causing problems once it moved into a corner storefront at the dilapidated shopping center earlier this year, Kelley said.
"It was almost on day one. It's after hours, it's motorcycles, it's guns and it's the illegal sale of alcohol," Councilman Kelley (Ward 13) said. "This entire property, everyone needs to be held accountable. We can't have this happen in our community. They were so awful that they were quickly on the radar screen in my office and the Second District. We're not going to rest until this is put out of business."
Around 3 a.m. on Sunday, a man fired a single gunshot following an argument with a woman, police said. Then, other patrons of the club started firing as well, ultimately leading to seven people between the ages of 20 and 40 suffering gunshot wounds. All seven victims were taken to area hospitals by private vehicles.
According to Cleveland police records, there have been nearly two dozen calls for service to the location since January, including eight calls for service on the weekend of March 21. That weekend, police responded to reports of a man threatening others with a gun as well as a report of shots fired. The club has no permits on file with the Ohio Liquor Commission.
Kelley said CPD's Second District had devoted resources to an investigation of the club in recent weeks.
"I guess I was kind of like, 'damn.' This happened and I knew the police had resources being devoted here and there were certain calls for service. I knew it was on the radar but this happened before it could be shut down," Kelley said. "That was my biggest disappointment. I was quite upset. You never want that to happen."
By having the club declared as a public nuisance, Kelley said the city can bill the club owners for any future police response. The council president also stressed that the property owners, 5100 PPMS LLC, should be held accountable as well. Calls to the property owners were not returned.
"Any property owner that thinks that they are going to escape liability or responsibility by saying, 'I'm just the property owner.' That's not going to happen," Kelley said. "If you own property you would think you would take some pride in it. You would want to find good tenants, good investors. You want to bring it back to what it could be. Unfortunately, that's not the case. This seemed to be an example of 'any paying customer will get a lease.' That's not okay."