ABC pulls Wilmington nightclub permits after murder

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Effective immediately, Club 609 in Wilmington has lost its permits to sell alcohol.

The NC ABC Commission made the decision today to revoke the temporary permits and deny the application for permanent permits.  On Sunday, a deadly shooting and stabbing happened outside the club, which is near the intersection of Market Street and Kerr Avenue.

Cornelius Blanks of Burgaw, 20 years old, was shot and killed after a fight that started inside the club reportedly spilled over into the parking lot around 2 in the morning.

Robert Lee McGruder of Leland, also 20 years old, was stabbed, but he is still alive.

In the order to close the club down, the ABC representative stated more details about what actually took place at the club that evening.  The letter states members of the Bloods and Crips street gangs were inside the club, when a song from Taaron Jones started playing.  Jones was a teenage gang leader who was stabbed and killed outside of the recently-closed Rhino Club in downtown Wilmington earlier this year.  The club's owner told us this week he thought the fight was gang-related.

[Hear some of Jones' music, Warning: Contains offensive language]

When that song started playing, gang members began flashing gang hand symbols to each other and a fight broke out.  That's when someone was stabbed near the back door, which is the first time anyone has acknowledge the stabbing took place inside the establishment.  The letter from the ABC states that employees of the club tried to clean up some of the blood before police arrived.

An agent of the State's Alcohol Law Enforcement Division served the order today.  The business owners may appeal the action to the Office of Administrative Hearings within 60 days.

City Councilman Kevin O'Grady is applauding the quick action of the ABC to take the club's permits.

He said this shows the cooperation between the ABC, the Wilmington Police Department and the city. O'Grady also said this incident sends a message to club owners.

"We're not going to tolerate it," said O'Grady. "There is responsibility on the club owners about the conduct in their establishment."

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