Bar no bother to some in Marcus Bottom Complaints cited, city officials mull meeting of owners

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Seventy-three-year-old Juanita McKenzie, who lives in a home just behind the Marcus Bottom nightclub Bottom Up, was surprised to learn Monday that a shooting there injured two people Saturday night.

McKenzie has lived for 10 years in the Bowmar Avenue house built by her uncle, and said she has not been bothered by the club’s entry into her neighborhood a little more than a year ago.

“If you don’t like that lifestyle, you ain’t going to worry about it,” she said. “I go inside and shut my door, say my prayers and go to bed. Whatever goes on there, I’ve slept right through it and when I wake up, it’s all done.”

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A man who lives across Bowmar Avenue near the club and occasionally eats or plays pool there said a “mostly older” crowd frequents Bottom Up and has not caused problems in the neighborhood.

But Deputy Chief Mitchell Dent said not everyone in Marcus Bottom agrees and complaints have been made about the bar.

“We log the complaints and follow up on them,” he said. “There were a number of houses where people reported being bothered or disturbed.”

Police continued to investigate the shootings in which three people were arrested in hours, Dent said. He said the club at 2618 Halls Ferry Road remains closed, but the operator, Emma Jackson, 59, 1101 Bowmar Ave. Apartment 7, said it was open Sunday and Monday and had customers.

The bar was closed, at least a few hours, on Saturday night.

It was the second shuttering this year for Bottom Up. On Jan. 2, a fight in the bar resulted in a man being hospitalized with head injuries and three men arrested for aggravated assault.

Bottom Up has been licensed by the City of Vicksburg since May 28, 2010, inspector Dalton McCarty said.

Dent said the building is owned by Alvin Stamps, age and address unavailable.

Since Jan. 2, E-911 has received eight calls to have police respond to the address, said director Jason Tatum.

Saturday’s shutdown came immediately after the 10 p.m. shooting that injured Alisha Allen, 26, 2518 Drummond St., and Otis Hall, 46, 1703 South St. Under normal operations, the club can remain open until 2 a.m.

Police said Allen and Hall were only bystanders when three men opened fire in the club, crowded with about 50 people, the maximum allowed by fire code. The three had gone to the club, police said, to confront another man about “an incident with a female” a week earlier.

The target of the attack, who was not identified, escaped without injury, police said.

The three men, Victor Lee Parson, 37, 1435 Ironwood Drive, and his brother, James Tyrone Parson, 35, 2607 Hannah Ave., and Franklin Lee Crook, 39, 1708 Openwood Lane, were arrested early Sunday morning at Crook’s home.

They appeared in Municipal Court Monday, where bond was set at $140,000 each for Victor Parson and James Parson, and at $160,000 for Crook, police Sgt. Sandra Williams said.

Each was charged with seven counts of aggravated assault, Williams said, because police believe seven shots were fired in the club.

In addition, Crook was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, she said. Crook was on probation for a federal conviction of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and had been released from federal custody in March, Williams said. She did not have details of Crook’s first felony conviction.

The injured, Allen and Hall, were taken to River Region Medical Center. Hall, who had been shot in the back, was treated and released, but Allen, shot in the hand, was transferred and admitted to University Medical Center in Jackson. This morning, spokesman Peggy Wagner said Allen had been discharged.

Briefing the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday on the shooting, police chief Walter Armstrong said his department has been working hard to curb unruly behavior at local clubs and bars, conducting periodic unannounced “walk throughs” and otherwise monitoring the sites.

“We can’t stand by and allow this type of activity to put a blight on our community,” Armstrong said. “We are going to continue to patrol these night spots and hold club owners responsible.”

Mayor Paul Winfield called for a meeting with police, city officials and night club and bar operators. No date has been set.

“I want them to know that we will have no tolerance for Dodge City-type activity,” Winfield said. If it happens, bar operators should know “we are going to take you down,” he added.

A similar meeting was held earlier this year following the injury of the man at Bottom Up, Dent said. Six of the 13 club owners invited to that meeting attended, where police reviewed license posting regulations, operating guidelines, hours of operation and other legal issues, Dent said.

“We wanted to make sure they knew how they were supposed to operate and what the expectations were, and that the police department was going to make its presence known, but not in an intimidating way,” he said.

One of the bar owners suggested a coalition of proprietors put together “a blacklist of anyone who had caused problems” in the past, Dent said. The list could be shared among the establishments, so others would be able to identify those troublemakers and deny them entrance, Dent said, but he did not know if the idea had been put into practice.

Staff writer John Surratt contributed to this report.