Despite efforts by the owner to curb crime surrounding Terry’s Lounge at 4318 6th Ave, the Chattanooga Beer Board revoked the bar’s beer license due to the pattern of shootings in recent months. Chattanooga Police Officer John Collins decided to bring the hearing up quickly because of the severity and number of calls reporting the crimes.
Discussed at the beer board meeting on Thursday were four incidents that have occurred since October. On last Oct. 1, Chattanooga Police received a “shots fired call” and the responding officers found a windshield hit by a bullet in the parking lot. On Dec. 9 at 1:45 a.m., police received a call reporting multiple gunshots. When the victim returned to his rental car, eight bullet holes were found. There were no witnesses for either of the two shootings. Prior to the four shooting calls under review, assaults occurred at the location on Aug. 31 and Sept. 28.
A woman was shot on Dec. 14 and was found by police in the DJ booth inside the club.
The latest event occurred just after Christmas night at 2:28 a.m. Responding to a fight/shots fired call, two officers arrived to find a scuffle at the front door. One officer assisted the security guard, Kenneth Freeman, to subdue a man. While preventing him from entering, a Glock with 30 rounds of ammunition was intercepted when it fell to the ground from the man’s waistband.
“It sounds like the security guard did his job,” said beer board member Christopher Keene.
Police officer Curtis Roth responded that he had, but that something needed to be done about the parking lot which was described as dimly lit. He told the board members that he has routinely been pulled out of his assigned district, which is one of the most active districts in the city, to deal with incidents at Terry’s.
Owner of the bar Terry Thorne told the board that measures he had instigated to reduce crime around his business included hiring three additional security guards for the parking lot and raising the age to enter from 21 to 27, yet the problems persisted. He said the cars that were hit by bullets did not happen in his lot, and that no pistol was inside when the woman was shot. That happened outside in the parking lot, said Mr. Thorne, and she was brought inside and put in the booth. “My security does a good job,” he said.
All of the shootings show a pattern from that area, Officer Collins said to the board.
“It appears that your establishment draws this type of drama,” said board member Forestine Haynes.
Mr. Keene noted that questions about lighting in the parking lot and security cameras should have been addressed at the time the beer license was issued.
Offering to do whatever he needed to do, including the addition of better lighting in the parking area and closing earlier, did not alleviate the concerns of the board and a motion to revoke the beer license made by Ron Smith was approved on a vote of five to three.
Officer Collins told Mr. Thorne that an injunction can be sought with the Chancery Court after which he would be allowed to sell beer until his case is heard.
Also at the meeting, beer licenses were approved for two Raceway convenience stores. Chris Rogers, who operates a Raceway on Amnicola Highway, was approved for his second location at 405 Signal Mountain Road. Christopher Biggs was given a beer permit for his third Raceway location at 5455 Hixson Pike.