Mayor-Elect Frank Melton says he will close The Upper Level nightclub. Six people were shot on Northside Drive outside the club early Sunday morning. An innocent bystander was killed, and the killer is still on the loose.
The club’s owners say they do all they can to protect their patrons, but say they can’t always control what goes on outside the club.
An early-morning phone call delivered the bad news. “They were coming out, and all of a sudden they were just sitting there talking — and then they heard gunfire,” said Cleotha Givens.
Givens’ daughter, 21-year-old Lakita Williams, was shot in the back outside the club. She later died at University Medical Center.
Police now say altogether, five people were shot as the club goers were leaving the establishment. Police still have no motive or any suspects.
“We will hunt them down relentlessly,” said Melton of the shooter(s). With two shootings in about two weeks, he says, after he is sworn in, the Upper Level will close.
“It’s going to be shut down,” he said. “It is a public nuisance. That’s what people have hired me to do. I’m not going to play with them.” Melton says he will take the issue to chancery court next week.
The club was previously owned by Starsky Redd, who was once jailed on numerous charges after police discovered an 18-wheeler delivering 770 pounds of marijuana and some cocaine.
About two weeks ago, an angry Upper Level owner confronted a WLBT camera crew after two men were shot in the parking lot.
The club’s managers say they do all they can to keep the club safe but can’t always prevent violence in the streets.
But Lakita Williams wasn’t looking for trouble. Her father said she went to the Upper Level to meet some friends. “Once they leave the house, they are out of your hands,” he said. “Once they go to the nightclub they are in anyone’s hands, and violence can break out anywhere. There is just so much violence in Jackson. It’s a shame.”
Givens says his daughter was working to save up for nursing school. He says she wanted to be a nurse all her life.
The club’s owners say they have security all over the premises and sympathize with the victims and their families, but they say all the security they have sometimes can’t prevent events like this that happen off their property.