Deadly shooting prompts push to close Upstate nightclub

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GAFFNEY, SC (WSPA) – An Upstate sheriff wants to shut down a nightclub where a deadly shooting happened this weekend. 

The Sugar Shack Nightclub near Interstate 85 and Shelby Highway in Gaffney is now the scene of a murder investigation.

Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller said several agencies responded to a call of shots fired at the nightclub around 3:30 a.m. Saturday. 

“Our agency, Gaffney PD, blacksburg, Highway patrol, all the units responded because normally that time of night at that location, there’s normally a large crowd,” Mueller said. “Our officers found one gunshot victim. They administered first aid.”

Sheriff Mueller said that victim – identified as Montrell McMullens, 23 – was taken to the Spartanburg Medical Center by EMS where he later died during surgery. 

“I just follow him on Facebook, he’s a real laid back guy – funny guy,” said Black Lives Matter-Gaffney’s Andre Gregory. “[McMullens] come out to have a good time and it’s sad that guns were brought into the club.”

The sheriff says five people were shot in total. The other four were taken to hospitals in Gaffney and Shelby, N.C. in personal vehicles. 

“The gunfire erupted inside and as people were leaving out of the club, it continued in the parking lot,” said Sheriff Mueller. “The majority of shots were fired outside the club. We know that more than one person was shooting. We recovered several different types of shell casings there so we know there were several different calibers of weapons.”

The sheriff says this was not the first time officers responded to the nightclub and now they’re trying to get the establishment shut down permanently. 

“We’ll look at the process of working with our solicitor to get it declared a nuisance facility,” Sheriff Mueller said. 

When the club opened in 2017, the sheriff says they responded to 11 fights that year.

In 2018, he says deputies responded to 13 fights and the first “shots fired” call last May. 

“No persons or no property was struck,” he said of the incident. 

The sheriff says someone was shot in July 2018.

“We had over 10 cars that were struck by gunfire,” he said of the incident.

During a second meeting with the owner and promoters deputies offered best practices to improve safety like hiring armed security and checking for weapons. 

“We simply just said, ‘Look – we’re having a large volume of calls there, you’ve gotta do something,’” Mueller recalled. “[We told them] If you hear that there is an argument going on and you even think that tensions are gonna rise, go ahead and call 9-1-1 and ask for a supervisor. We instructed our supervisor – if you get that call, go ahead and send a car there.” 

It’s advice he says the owner took for a while, but deputies got those calls for supervision three times. 

He said there was another shooting in December 2018 that damaged property.

“Person running the club – he told one of our investigators, ‘I had to quit bringing in the armed security. I couldn’t afford it. He said ‘It was draining me dry,’” Mueller said. “He put profit before the safety of his customers – bottom line.”’

The sheriff said the club had the hand held metal detectors at the entrance of the club but were obviously not using them. 

Mueller says getting the nightclub declared a nuisance is a civil process that can take six months to a year. 

The sheriff’s office will work closely with the state Department of Revenue and SLED to attempt to revoke the current license because evidence shows the club serves liquor when it’s only licensed to serve beer and wine.

On top of this recent shooting, Sheriff Mueller says the place needs to close and Gregory said he’s right. 

“The community stands behind him [Sheriff] on this because enough is enough,” said Gregory. “At the end of the day they [club] don’t have real security so let’s be honest: if you don’t have real security, things like this will happen over and over again. Even I and some others want to get a petition together to have them shut down.”

He said gun violence needs to end. 

“We’re losing our young black men to the system and to the grave,” said Gregory. “Let’s step up and be better role models for our community, for our kids.”

The sheriff says detectives are working around the clock on this recent case and witnesses are urged to come forward and call Investigator Parnell or Investigator Haney at the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office at 864-489-4722 Investigator Parnell Extension #117 and Investigator Haney Extension #120. 

Persons with information can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-888-Crime SC or 1-888-274-6372.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

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