L.D.’s Lounge allowed to reopen after owner agrees to security changes

Published 4:25 pm Friday, December 29, 2017

Nearly a week after being forced to close following a Christmas Eve shooting that injured five people, L.D.’s Lounge in downtown Vicksburg was allowed to reopen Friday at 5 p.m.

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and Vicksburg Police Chief Milton Moore closed the lounge Sunday after officers responded to a shooting at the lounge around 11:58 p.m. that resulted in five people being transported to the hospital with non-life threatening gunshot wounds. Denzell Watts, 21, was arrested and charged with five counts of aggravated assault following the shooting.

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L.D.’s owner Larry Prentiss was allowed to reopen the lounge Friday after he signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Vicksburg outlining new security measures he will take to make sure patrons at the lounge are kept safe. The restaurant and catering business were not impacted by the closure.

“Larry Prentiss, who is the owner of L.D.’s, came and he took a proactive position and came with a plan of action recognizing that there were some security issues and concerns, not only for his establishment, but the community and the Vicksburg Police Department,” Flaggs said. “He agreed with a clear understanding that we wanted to make those adjustments to satisfy Chief Milton Moore and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.”

The terms of the memorandum were outlined during a meeting between Flaggs and Prentiss Friday morning and signed by Prentiss, Flaggs and aldermen Michael Mayfield and Alex Monsour Friday afternoon allowing the lounge to reopen Friday evening. The memorandum of understanding will be put into public record during the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s meeting Tuesday.

“I was absolutely and emphatically impressed with what he (Prentiss) did and I was also relieved that he took a proactive position on this so we don’t have to exercise our right to try and have him closed down,” Flaggs said.

Prentiss presented an action plan to the mayor that included changing the minimum age to 25, a stricter dress code and making the facility smoke free as well as new security measures. The memorandum of understanding was approved by Chief Moore and outlines specific security guidelines that must be met by specific dates in order for the lounge to remain open.

“He was able to evaluate his own situation and make recommendations to us with allowing Chief Moore to modify it,” Flaggs said.

The memorandum of understanding between Prentiss and the city gives the Board the right to “take any actions to protect the community and its citizenry including declaring the business a public nuisance” if the agreed to changes aren’t implemented or if “there is no improvement in the illegal activity that surrounds this business.”

Flaggs said there is an ordinance in the city of Vicksburg that gives the Board of Mayor and Aldermen “the right to recommend closure when an establishment is not in the best safety interest of the public.” He said any establishment in the city limits where a gun related incident occurs will be closed until they can outline security measures that will be taken to project their patrons.

“The fact is that we are living in a time where we are having too much violence as it relates to gun related incidents and I thought the public safety should be a priority and it is better to be safe than sorry,” Flaggs said. “I would rather shut down an establishment and make sure the public is safe and to make certain we do that.”