Shootings spur call for earlier close time

AIKEN --- After shootings at two nightclubs in Aiken County this weekend that injured four people, Sheriff Michael Hunt said he's ready to ask the county council for an ordinance requiring clubs to close earlier.

 

"It is our intention to hold clubs accountable," he said Monday at a news conference.

He added that club owners have a responsibility to keep their customers safe.

On Saturday about 4:30 a.m., three men were shot inside The Spot, a private club on Womrath Road in North Augusta. Its status as a private club allows it to stay open all night.

The next day at about 2 a.m., a 16-year-old girl was shot in the stomach outside Club 1-9 Sports Grill, a teen club on Edgefield Road.

No arrests have been made in either incident.

Sheriff Hunt said he is working with the county attorney to draw up the ordinance and bring it before the council.

"We're not having trouble with every club in the county," he said, declining to identify any specific club.

However, the sheriff said those places the department does have constant problems with are "going to quit making excuses."

"This is a final warning. You can either get on board with us, and let's be proactive, or we're going to take another avenue, and I don't care who likes it, who doesn't like it," Sheriff Hunt said.

Another option to reprimand problem clubs would be to pull their liquor licenses, but that wouldn't work at a place like Club 1-9 that does not sell alcohol.

Sheriff Hunt said the problem there is teens leaving the club and going to their cars for alcohol or guns.

He encouraged parents to make sure their children are home at a decent time.

"We're not here to parent everyone's children in this county," Sheriff Hunt said. "I have a 15-year-old myself, and he's not going to be at any club at 2 in the morning. I think if you go to the old school, which I'm from, my daddy used to tell me nothing goes on good after midnight."

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or michelle.guffey@augustachronicle.com.