ABC Commission makes 'last call' for downtown Wilmington club - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

ABC Commission makes 'last call' for downtown Wilmington club

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The NC ABC Commission announced Wednesday they have suspended alcohol permits from the Rhino Club in downtown Wilmington.

[ABC Commission suspension press release (PDF)]

The immediate suspension comes on the heels of the fatal stabbing of Taaron Jones that took place near the business early Monday morning after a fight broke out in the area. 

Jones, 19, was wearing a wristband that is used to indicate the patron is 21 at the time of his death, according to affidavits.  Officers say he was a confirmed member of the Double I street gang and held the rank of a Five Star General, the highest ranking member.

According to the affidavits, officers have reported the walls inside the bar to be painted red and black, which are the primary colors of the Double I gang.

[Rhino alcohol permit suspension summary and official affidavits (PDF)]

In the sworn affidavits, law enforcement officers describe a pattern of behavior at the Wilmington bar.  The order of summary suspension said the Rhino Club was first notified in April 2010 for a nuisance at the property.

"Violence that takes a life and that is part of a demonstrated pattern of violence at a single location prompts quick action by the ABC Commission to suspend alcohol permits immediately," said ABC Chairman Jon Williams, who signed the orders suspending the alcohol permits held by the business.

"We feel that the action is in the best interest of this community," said District Attorney Ben David. 

David said the action was taken after months of trying to help The Rhino Club and other establishments clean up their acts.

The alcohol permit suspension was requested by the Wilmington Police Department and the state's division of Alcohol Law Enforcement. Documents say the Wilmington Police Department has received several calls from citizens complaining about assaults and other disruptive acts at the establishment since April 20, 2010.  David said he attempted to reach out to The Rhino Club in April by a certified letter and again in November.  David said the club owners never responded.

"Our work is not yet done. This is only one of several establishments with a documented history of criminal activity," said Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous in a press release. "Today's action demonstrates the strength of our ongoing work with the ABC Commission and ALE."

According to the Commission, this is the 11th Last Call summary suspension issued since October 2009.

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