Club owner says he was 'shocked' by CPD decision to shut down Empire Supper Club

Published: Sep. 23, 2017 at 3:29 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2017 at 12:11 PM EDT
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(Source: WISTV)
(Source: WISTV)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It has nearly been one week since a shooting in the Vista that was described by some witnesses as a 'war zone' played out in one of Columbia's busiest night districts.

Eight people were injured when shots rang out in the Vista last weekend. Since then four people have been arrested and city police have taken action against a club, which they believe shares in the blame for what happened.

On Thursday, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook finalized his decision to keep the Empire Supper Club closed after declaring it to be a public nuisance.  

Joe Stovall,  the owner of the Empire Supper Club, said the decision left him shocked, especially after having talks with the police department earlier this week. Stovall said it looked like those conversations were moving in a positive direction.

Stovall has maintained that the shooting which unfolded on Park Street last weekend had nothing to do with his club, even though there are accounts that one of the men involved may have performed at the club that night.  

The club owner said in short that he feels his club has been scapegoated for what happened.

"The problem is not a business. The problem is the criminals who fire guns in the open area," Stovall said. "That's the problem so if you want to create a campaign to truly cure the problem in Columbia, it's not shutting down a business. That's not a step toward fighting crime."

Stovall says at this point he has yet to decide if he will appeal the city's decision on the club. If he did, the case would be in the hands of the city manager.  After that, Stovall does have the option to take the matter to court.

Meanwhile, the eight people who were injured in the shooting are still recovering from their injuries and some still remain in the hospital.

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