Local News

Dozens of locations off limits to Bragg troops

Posted June 3, 2009 7:01 p.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2009 7:54 a.m. EDT

— Soldiers at Fort Bragg are deployed to some of the most dangerous places in the world to defend America, but the Army won't allow the troops to go to more than 70 locations in central North Carolina because they're considered unsafe.

by the Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board states that numerous mobile home parks between Angier and Lumberton, Fayetteville nightclubs and other businesses near Fort Bragg are off limits to soldiers because of crime and health concerns.

"At the end of the day, it's safer for the soldiers and families. I mean, that's really the issue," said Col. John Garrity, who heads the 11-member board. "It's not done with any purpose to harm a business."

The Jamaican Restaurant and Lounge, on North Main Street in Spring Lake, was added to the Army's blacklist this spring after a soldier was killed there.

Spc. Charles Clements, 27, who was based at Fort Hood, Texas, was fatally shot inside the club on March 29 – two days before the off-limts list was issued – after he defended a woman in a fight in the parking lot, authorities said. Arthur Mwebe, a Fort Bragg soldier, was wounded in the shooting.

Investigators said the man charged in the shooting is a violent drug dealer.

A bar on the off-limits list, The Palomino on Owen Drive in Fayetteville, was ordered closed by a judge in January following two fatal shootings within 12 months. Neither victim was a soldier.

The map below includes 42 of the sites on the off-limits list. Other sites don't include addresses or are encompassed under headings like "All unlicensed tattoo parlors."

View Off limits to soldiers in a larger map

Yahya Alsardi, who owns the J&J Fast Mart on Bragg Boulevard, has appealed to the Army to get his convenience store and gas station off the list.

"I don't consider (the store) dangerous," Alsardi said. "(We've) never been robbed, even though a lot of people think it's a rough neighborhood. But it's not as bad as people think."

Garrity said J&J Fast Mart was added to the list last year after Fayetteville police alerted the Army to a high volume of police calls there, including prostitution and drug distribution.

"They were concerned for soldiers," he said.

Alsardi said he has installed extra security cameras and has hired a Cumberland County deputy to patrol the property at night. But Garrity's board has denied his request to have J&J Fast Mart removed from the off-limits list.

"We lost a lot of business since the soldiers stopped coming to the store," Alsardi said.

Any soldier seen at an off-limits site would first be issued a warning, but subsequent violations could result in disciplinary action.

"They can be fined. They can be restricted to their barracks room. They can lose their off-post privileges," Garrity said.

He acknowledged that restricting soldiers from an establishment can seriously impact a business.

"There are some that just had to close their doors because a significant population of soldiers used them, and that population went away. So, they were unable to continue to do business," he said.

A WRAL News crew, for example, twice found the doors to the Jamaican Restaurant locked during business hours recently.

Mickey's Bar & Grill, a Bragg Boulevard nightclub, has posted a sign proclaiming, "Mickey's not off limits to military."

Some soldiers said they support the off-limits list.

"As leaders, you're responsible for your soldiers' on- and off-duty activity. Soldiers need to be fit – fit to fight," Master Sgt. Ian Cabe said.

"They're trashy places anyway. No need for you to be there," Spc. Bryan Curella said.