Some Shockoe Bottom clubs under scrutiny after gunfire twice in a month

Published: May. 31, 2016 at 10:25 PM EDT|Updated: May. 31, 2016 at 10:40 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Longtime restaurant owners in Shockoe Bottom say they're fed up with the recent spike in violence in recent weeks, often happening as clubs catering to late-night crowds are letting out.

Cell phone video captured a brawl in the 17th Street Farmer's Market earlier this month, as club-goers headed to their cars after a night out. Monday night, shots were fired for a second time this month, by 18th and Grace Streets.

Some restaurant owners say certain clubs are over-serving alcohol and packing their bars. They say that's leading to rowdiness and even violence in the streets as the bars empty out.

"It reflects poorly on this neighborhood," said Old City Bar owner David Napier. "We have a great reputation, except for that couple hours when the clubs let out in the middle of the night."

Longtime manager of Halligan Bar and Grill, Shamus O'Connor, says the rowdiness has peaked in recent weeks.

"It's just getting to the point where the frustration is starting to boil over for all of us," said O'Connor.

Police are investigating two shootings just blocks from the Farmer's Market this past month.

"There were officers within a quarter of a block - multiple officers [during each shooting]. It was just some spontaneous thing that spilled over," said Lt. William Brereton, with the Richmond Police Department.

Some business owners blame the spike on club-goers appearing to be drunk when leaving certain establishments.

"It's over capacity. It's over serving. It's lack of food," added O'Connor.

NBC12 confirmed ABC agents are investigating bars in the area and have already denied one club a permanent liquor license.

Police say they're continuing to steadily patrol the neighborhood, particularly during hours when clubs are making their last calls. Lt. Brereton says the goal is to make sure everyone is safe and not deter business.

"We don't want to over-police. We want people to have fun. But we want everybody to be safe," said Lt. Brereton.

One newer club owner says his club, as well as the other ones, hire off-duty officers and multiple security personnel to monitor their venues.

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