Despite increase in crime, city leaders vote in favor of Private “I” alcohol license

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Local Augusta club, Private I, is fighting to keep its alcohol license as the Sheriff’s Office has called for the commission to take it away.

NewsChannel 6 previously requested records on Private I from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, but did not receive any of those records.

That is until an Investigator with the Sheriff’s Office spoke at the Commission meeting on Tuesday.

“In 2015 there were five reports from that business. In 2016 four reports. In 2017 six reports. In 2018, 20 reports filled. And in 2019, 25 reports filed” states Investigator Ortiz.

The investigator continued to say it may hold as a threat to the community.

“Our concern is mainly the welfare of the patrons and the people who live around there because right behind it you have an apartment complex and we’ve had two shootings. With a total of five people shot and this is getting to the point where if allowed to stay open it’s just going to get worse.”

A lawyer for the nightclub’s owner argued that the club is an important part of the community.

“All of us in Augusta can go there. This place that they are trying to shutdown actually has meetings for kids. It holds a community breakfast, veteran women are there. It is a resource that we are supposed to be supporting not tearing down,” says Tania Jeffers.

Commissioners voted that the club can keep its alcohol license and approved a dance license for the club, but ordered club owners to work with the Sheriff’s Office to combat issues like the shooting last month.
City leaders also wanted to know why there weren’t any Sheriff’s deputies providing security the night of the murders.

“So when these murders, the last two, happened…the indication to me was that it started somewhere else. So I would question, where were these officers when it was going on?”

As Bobby Williams seeks answers…

“I don’t think there were any officers there that night,” responded Investigator Ortiz.

With the approval of the dance license, Private I will be allowed to stay open till 4 a.m.

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