The club, Magic City at 3200 Mike Padgett Highway, was not licensed as a place of assembly for a party that was held there but instead had a mercantile license. Patrick Walton, the business owner, admitted to officers who came to the scene that he did not have special duty officers at the party because he was not properly licensed.
Investigators estimated there were more than 200 people in their late teens and a few in their early 20s in the building the night of the shooting. A fight broke out on the dance floor and spilled into the parking lot when the DJ began playing “gangsta rap” toward closing time.
“That shows gross negligence,” sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Elim said. “To have an event without a proper license and a target audience that’s a young and volatile group with opposing gangs is reckless. That’s one of the reasons teen clubs in Richmond County are hard to approve.”
Kyle Royal, 16, died after a bullet hit him in the head while he was the backseat passenger in a vehicle that was leaving the club. The vehicle crashed into a utility pole at the Lumpkin Road intersection after the shooting. A 19-year-old was also shot, in the leg in the club’s parking lot.
Three guns were found in the vehicle. Royal, who was in the car with four others, was shooting one of the guns when he was killed, said Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Blaise Dresser.
Four types of weapon shells, 31 shells total, were recovered from the Magic City parking lot and highway in front of the facility.
Walton applied for a dance hall license and certificate of occupancy for Magic City in October and opened shortly thereafter, according to Rob Sherman, the director of Licensing and Inspection.
It wasn’t until officers and fire department officials were called to the facility in December during a party with 400 to 500 people that officials realized the facility was operating with an inappropriate license for the size and type of event, according to a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office memo dated Dec. 16.
“He (the owner) was told not to have anything in that building,” Elim said.
Sherman said both the business license and the certificate of occupancy were pulled from Walton until he could provide floor plans demonstrating a safety plan for occupants.
Several weeks ago when Walton met with Sherman, the owner said an architect had been hired and plans were in progress. Plans were never submitted, however.
Interim Fire Chief Chris James did not return messages left for him Tuesday.
Sherman said Walton will be meeting with licensing and inspections, fire department and sheriff’s department officials Wednesday to discuss the licensing issue.
“It’s a tragedy,” sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles said. “We strongly encourage parents to not allow children to go to teen clubs. Obviously nothing good comes from it.”