Politics & Government

Macon-Bibb commission weighs in on Wings Cafe shootings

Macon-Bibb County commissioners will discuss asking Municipal Court to consider revoking Wings Cafe’s liquor license, but they stopped short Tuesday night of taking an immediate final vote on the issue.

Commissioners Al Tillman and Virgil Watkins sponsored a resolution, added at the last minute to the commission agenda, that says a Municipal Court hearing is warranted by “numerous occurrences of violent activity” at Wings -- in particular, a double fatal shooting last week that injured four more.

“That wasn’t the club’s first incident,” Watkins said Tuesday. His proposal would merely act on a law already on the books, he said.

If the matter is heard in Municipal Court, the county attorney and sheriff would act as prosecutors, Watkins said.

A telephone call to Wings on Tuesday night went unanswered.

Assistant County Attorney Reggie McClendon, who helped Watkins draft the resolution, said the Macon-Bibb code of ordinances gives commissioners or their designee -- in this case Municipal Court -- the power to investigate possible alcohol license violations. Commissioners or their designee can hold a hearing and decide to suspend or revoke a license, he said.

Tillman said the former city of Macon closed a Poplar Street lounge for similar reasons.

Commissioner Elaine Lucas said everyone rightly sympathizes with victims of violence, but that commissioners should tread carefully and give the matter full discussion in committee. Club owners themselves could be involved in working out better security rules, she said.

But in the full commission meeting, Watkins sought to have the resolution get an immediate final vote.

Lucas asked again for it to be sent through the committee process, and Watkins’ move failed by one vote. He was backed by commissioners Tillman, Gary Bechtel and Ed DeFore.

The Public Safety Committee will discuss the proposal Dec. 23, and it could be back for a vote by the full commission Jan. 6.

About 2 a.m. Friday, shooting broke out inside Wings, a sports lounge at 2822 Bloomfield Drive, just south of Eisenhower Parkway.

Cory Hollingshed, 25, of Springmeadow Drive in Macon, died of a gunshot wound to his chest, and club DJ George Henley, 34, of North Groveland Circle, died from a shot in his back, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.

Derrick Jackson, 38, and Nastajah Taylor, 23, were treated for gunshot wounds. Markques Patterson, 29, was grazed by a bullet, and Jacquez Foster, 23, also was wounded, Jones said.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said Taylor and Henley were unarmed and likely were innocent bystanders.

There have been no arrests yet in the shootings, but a Macon man has since been charged with robbery for taking money from Henley after he was killed.

In May, aspiring rapper Arika “Lottie Dottie” Jarrell and her friend Ralph Heard were at Wings Cafe hours before they were killed in an alleged armed-robbery ambush at Jarrell’s house.

The four men who were indicted, and a fifth who was killed in the shootout, Terrance “Heavy D” Dent, allegedly chose their victims while at the club, the indictment stated.

And in July 2011, 35-year-old Alfred Smith was found shot to death in his car in the lounge’s parking lot.

Watkins said police have been called to Wings 74 times in the club’s three-year history.

Commissioner Scotty Shepherd said discussion of revoking Wings’ liquor license should send a message to other club owners. The recently opened Crazy Bull on Second Street has had a number of fights inside and outside the establishment, he said.

Mayor Robert Reichert said 30 years ago a rash of violent crimes at convenience stores caused DeFore to propose mandating security cameras in those businesses. Merchants opposed it at the time, but the measure helped. Reichert said maybe more and better cameras could be required for clubs as well.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.