Wings Cafe owner Tom Kim will go before Municipal Court for scrutiny of the club’s liquor license, Macon-Bibb County commissioners decided in an 8-1 vote Tuesday, despite objections from Kim and his attorney Charlie Cox.
Commissioners sought the court review in the wake of a Dec. 12 shootout at the Bloomfield Drive nightspot that left three dead and three injured. It was the latest of dozens of police calls there over the past few years.
Cox said Kim came to Macon from Korea in 1977, served in the U.S. Army, became an American citizen and worked 14 years at the post office before starting his own convenience stores. Selling those, Kim opened Wings in December 2010, Cox said. He said the club owner did all he could to prevent and deal with trouble. Cox said sending Kim before Municipal Court might only make other club owners more reluctant to call police.
“Is the commission applying the same standards to Wings Cafe as it applies to other clubs and bars?” Cox asked.
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Commissioner Elaine Lucas cast the only vote against a court review of Wings’ liquor license, suggesting the government could be sued for singling out Wings.
“The real problem is not Wings Cafe. The real problem is the violence that people take into any place,” she said. Lucas empathizes with families of the victims but thinks Kim made all reasonable efforts to prevent violence, she said. Lucas said she opposed the resolution but would back “all other efforts” to stop gun violence, such as organizing community meetings.
A representative of the Neighborhood Watch group which operates near Wings’ location on Bloomfield Drive urged that the club’s license be revoked, saying it and nearby liquor stores hurt the neighborhood.
Commissioner Virgil Watkins, co-sponsor of the resolution with Commissioner Al Tillman, said ordering the Municipal Court hearing is not an automatic determination of the club owner’s guilt. Instead, he said, it’s to provide an impartial review of whether the club did everything possible to prevent violence.
“It may be a no-fault type of situation,” Watkins said.
The court hearing has not been scheduled, but Watkins -- in response to Lucas -- said a town hall meeting on violence will be held Jan. 31.
Five people have been charged with murder in the case, which Bibb County Sheriff David Davis has said may be gang-related. One man also has been charged with taking money from one of the dead.
Watkins said police have been called to Wings 74 times since it opened. The Dec. 12 incident, with three deaths, was the third involving a fatal shooting connected to Wings. In May, three died after an alleged armed robbery which an indictment says was planned at Wings. And in July 2011, a man was found shot to death in his car in the lounge’s parking lot.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.