COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott has finally gotten a leg up on a nightclub that he has continuously criticized and even threatened to put a "damn padlock on the place" himself.
In a 10 a.m. news conference, Lott says he and Richland County attorneys have found a way to shutter the doors of the Black Pearl on Broad River Road.
Lott says county officials have placed a "stop work order" on the nightclub as of Thursday night. That order was served to the club's owner, Scott McMillan, with the notion that arrests would be made if anyone attempted to open the club after the order was placed.
"There will not be tickets issued to them," Lott said. "They will be arrested for opening the club."
The club has been in violation of Richland County zoning rules since day one, according to Lott, operating as a "sexually-oriented business" despite the club's owner saying that's not the case.
"The attorney for the Black Pearl has compared to the club to Hooters," Lott said. "I think you'll see that. I don't think Hooters does lap dances. I don't think Hooters has money laying all on the floor where the strippers are paid. I don't think Hooters has poles inside there. It's an insult to anybody or an attorney to compare the Black Pearl to Hooters or any restaurant or bar."
A recent shooting at the club that left two brothers dead appears to have been the last straw for Lott. The victims have been identified as Torance L. Peeples, 26, and Trevonne J. Judge, 23. Both died of gunshot wounds to the upper torso.
Lott praised county attorneys and the sheriff's department for coming up with a way to shut the club down because the club's attorney said they'd be opening the doors in time for New Year's Eve. That call came after Lott said the attorney told deputies the club would remain closed until the investigation into the shooting was complete.
That investigation continues, Lott said.
"It's still very active," Lott said. "This club has operated on blood money. It's operated illegally. And we're going to put a stop to it."
More on this story as it develops.