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Ybor's Empire Night Club to install metal detector following fatal shooting

YBOR CITY — Clubgoers wanting to get into Empire Night Club will now have to go through a metal detector.

Tampa police say the hip-hop club's owners told them they are installing a metal detector and limiting Empire's entrances to one following a shooting early Sunday that killed a 20-year-old man and injured another.

Police have responded to dozens of calls at the Seventh Avenue club, and at least three other fatal attacks have occurred at or near the club over the past nine years.

Earlier this week, several dozen people rallied in front of the club, calling for it to be declared a nuisance and shut down, according to Bay News 9.

Last weekend's shooting claimed the life of Leslie Jerome Jones Jr., a father of four, and injured Ahmaud Black, 19. The shooter has not been caught. Police are still investigating.

The club is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Police met with its two owners and their attorney Thursday morning to discuss what the club will be doing to ensure patrons' safety.

At the meeting — attended by Assistant Chief John Bennett and several others — Empire's owners said they planned to install a walk-through metal detector, said police spokeswoman Laura McElroy.

They plan to fire any employees who allow patrons in through the other doors, which will now be exit-only, McElroy said.

They will also extend the hours they employ off-duty officers to 9:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.

"The bottom line is we need to inure that the patrons of Ybor City and this club are safe," McElroy said.

She said the club's owners have handed over surveillance video footage from the night of the shooting and have been cooperating.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or jvandervelde@sptimes.com.

Ybor's Empire Night Club to install metal detector following fatal shooting 10/06/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 6, 2011 11:11pm]
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