10/29/12 — Shooter wasn't searched

View Archive

Shooter wasn't searched

By John Joyce
Published in News on October 29, 2012 1:46 PM

A man suspected of shooting to death a patron at a nightclub was not checked for weapons before entering, according to documents obtained from the Goldsboro Police Department and the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

Jarius Mikeal Saunders Jr., 18, was shot to death in a restroom at Teasers on U.S. 117 South on Sept. 30.

Authorities are still searching for his alleged killer, Quinton Leon Swinson II, also known as "Big Boy," or "Fat Boy."

The club's patrons are required to go through a security check before entering the club, but Swinson was not searched, the documents say, because the manager of the bar had ordered the security guard not to detain Swinson.

Since then, the commission has pulled the alcohol license of the club, but patrons can still bring in their own beer or wine, which has troubled investigators with the police department.

It is the second time in a year that the club has had its permit to sell alcohol withdrawn.

According to the police and commission, the shooting was caught on surveillance camera. The manager who told security not to search Swinson is identified only as "Charlie" in the report.

What has upset police is that the permits were reinstated after being pulled earlier without their input.

"Why weren't we invited?" police Chief Jeff Stewart asked.

Agnes Stevens, director of public affairs for the ABC Commission, said that the owner of the club, Jack Earl Thomas, petitioned for an emergency ruling on the summary suspension of his permits, citing the financial hardship he was being forced to endure from not being allowed to sell alcohol.

That meant that an administrative law judge, in this case Judge Beecher R. Gray, could review the facts at his disposal and supersede the testimony of witnesses or officials,  expediting the process by making an immediate ruling.

And Gray did, staying the summary suspension and allowing the club to stay open, although patrons have to bring in their own drinks.

Other conditions imposed included, according to the report, that Teasers' security be beefed up and that a weapons ban be enforced, not only inside the club, but everywhere on the premises. Another condition stipulated that no one be admitted after 1:30 a.m., and that the club close and be cleared out by 2:30 a.m. It normally closes much later.

Sgt. Mike Sweet, a crime scene investigations supervisor for the police, has at least three folders worth of investigation reports and evidence photos detailing violence in and around the night club over the last two years.

"I went around to some local businesses that are in the vicinity of Teasers ... this is the SouthCo, 222 S. John St., which is behind Teasers, and here are some bullet holes," Sweet said.

He held up black and white photos of various caliber bullets having pierced the garage of the neighboring business.

No date has been set yet for the hearing on the current summary suspension of Teasers' ABC permits. Thomas could not be reached for comment.

Calls to the club were met with a recording that states that the club is open Thursday through Saturday and is "now B.Y.O.B."

Law enforcement officials remain convinced that the club is a hotbed of violence and should continue to be restricted from selling alcohol.

In a letter to the ABC Commission, dated Oct. 3, Stewart said the establishment has been a "problem for the city for many years," and that the police department, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and the state Highway Patrol have routinely had to respond en masse to the club due to "crowd control issues."

The number and the severity of the incidents of violence at the club are the reason that the police and the A.L.E. are so committed to keeping the permits from being reissued a second time, authorities say.

These types of permit suspensions are not routine, said Ms. Stevens, who said there have only been about 15 suspensions of this kind in the last two or three years.

"That's out of 18,000 permits," she said. "These suspensions are rare."

Sweet and Stewart are mostly concerned about continued violence at the club carrying over into the community.

"The problem is you have a major artery, U.S. Highway 117, coming right through there. If they're shooting, how do you know the bullets aren't going to end up in one of those cars?" Stewart said.