Man accused of running illegal nightclub at site of fatal shooti - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Man accused of running illegal nightclub at site of fatal shooting

John Freeman (Source: DA's Office) John Freeman (Source: DA's Office)
Beward of Dog and Private Property signs are posted on a dirt road leading to the Hideaway Lounge. (Source: WECT) Beward of Dog and Private Property signs are posted on a dirt road leading to the Hideaway Lounge. (Source: WECT)
COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) -

A Columbus County man is accused of operating an illegal nightclub, District Attorney Jon David announced Tuesday.

Officials say John Freeman was operating an establishment known as The Hideaway Lounge in Bolton.

On Nov. 25, Ricky Heckstall was shot and killed outside of the club.

An investigation of the crime scene by the Columbus County Sheriff's Office and the SBI revealed "a sophisticated nightclub operation to include the sale of alcohol," the DA's office said.

While the murder investigation is ongoing, the ALE is investigating alcohol-related offenses.

The District Attorney, Columbus County Sheriff Lewis Hatcher, and ALE will be seeking a nuisance and abatement action to permanently close down this facility, according to officials.

“Establishments such as the one Mr. Freeman was illegally operating creates a substantial risk to our community and warrants the pursuit of all criminal and civil processes available under the law,” David said.

Neighbors describe the property where the Hideaway Lounge is said to exist as "loud," "disrespectful," and "trouble."

In 2011, another man was shot dead outside the Hideaway Lounge, sparking a similar effort by law enforcement to shut down the illegal operation. David said the previous attempt was unsuccessful, and property owners ignored requests to cease operation. 

David said a number of factors make this attempt to shut down the illegal nightclub more likely, including the continued history of crime, which makes a judge more apt to seek legal action. David said the ALE's full-time nuisance abatement unit will allow more resources to address the problem. 

David will meet with Hatcher and ALE officials Thursday to formulate a plan to shut down The Hideaway Lounge, which will include seeking a nuisance and abatement action.

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