TAMPA — The owner of a building where two security guards fatally shot two people after a party for teens on New Year's Day never got approval from the county to host such an event, county officials said Thursday.
The building at 5809 N. 50th Street, part of the Stor-ette Business Park, was last permitted by the Hillsborough County fire marshal in May 2015 for use as church with a maximum occupancy of 82 people, county spokesman Todd Pratt said.
The owner never notified the county that it would be used to host events like the "New Years Teen Pajama Jam," a party that drew as many as 200 people on Monday night before the shootings, according to a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office estimate.
"It is the property owner's responsibility to inform Fire Rescue anytime there is a change of use and/or occupancy," Pratt said in an email. "Following Monday's incident, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue has informed the property owner that the space may not be occupied again for any use until the Fire Marshal has performed an inspection."
The owner also failed to get a permit to use the building for such an event, Pratt said. The property's zoning allows for single-event use with the proper permit.
"Hillsborough County Code Enforcement will be informing the property owner that the current use must cease until approvals are granted," Pratt said. "If the property continues to be used in a manner inconsistent with its permit use, the property owner will be issued a citation."
County records show the owner of the 2,300-square-foot building is Stor-ette Inc., which has a post office box in Milford, Mich. The Tampa Bay Times has been unable to reach a representative for the company.
A site manager, Derek Ivezaj, told the Times Thursday he was in the process of evicting the tenant when the shooting happen.
Ivezaj said the tenant, whom he declined to identify, leased the building for office space a few months ago and was not allowed to host parties or other events there. The tenant had only been there a few months and was served with the eviction notice in November, he said.
The previous tenant was evicted for the same reason.
"That's how the new tenants got the space," he said.
Ivezaj said he didn't know about the New Year's Day shooting until he saw it on the news.
"We've been cooperating with investigators but there's not a whole lot we can do," he said.
According to a promotional flyer, the teen party was to be held at the "Dub D Dance Hall" from 8 p.m. to midnight. Two DJs would provide music. Admission was $10 per person.
"SECURITY STRICTLY ENFORCED," the flyer says.
A series of fights inside the venue prompted the event's organizers to end it early and close the doors, the Sheriff's Office said. Between 150 and 200 people were in the process of leaving the event when two armed security guards hired by the event organizers first heard fireworks and then gun shots, deputies said.
The guards, Keyon Williams and Connor Harm, saw someone firing from a black sedan parked in front of the building and, fearing for their lives, returned fire, the Sheriff's Office said. The two occupants in the car, Jyhaad D. Grant, 25, and Julissa Jackson, 15, were shot and killed. Detectives later found two handguns in the black sedan, a Nissan Sentra, and said evidence indicates both guns had been fired at the scene.
Williams, 28, and Harm, 18, have not been charged with a crime. Both were employees of Tampa-based Eagle One Security Force at the time of the shooting.
The Times has been unable to reach the promoters of the event, listed on the flyer as "TylertheCelebrity" and "NIYAHMFB."
Last May, a tenant renting the building filed a complaint with code enforcement about conditions there, according to a case report. The tenant, Domonique Jenkins, told a building official he was renting the building from manager Derek Ivezaj to use as "banquet/dance hall," the report says.
An inspection revealed a loose interior wall near the front door, a lack of smoke detectors and of grounded electrical outlets, exposed wiring in the kitchen and black organic matter on baseboards in the kitchen and hallway. Inspectors also noted the building wasn't permitted for use as a banquet or dance hall.
Ivezaj told inspectors that Jenkins was being evicted for violating the terms of a rental agreement that says the building was to be used for office space, the report says. When an inspector returned in August, Jenkins had been evicted and the code violations had been remedied.
Contact Tony Marrero at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.