Local News

Bar won't reopen after fatal shooting, owner says

Posted October 5, 2011 4:22 p.m. EDT
Updated October 5, 2011 6:53 p.m. EDT

— The owner of a Rocky Mount bar says he won't reopen the business following a fatal shooting over the weekend involving a teenager who's now wanted for murder.

Ryan Craig Bobbitt, 24, was killed in the early hours of Sept. 30 after a fight broke out at the Night Life Bar and Grill at 821 Country Club Road.

Police won't say what led to the fight, but two men have been arrested in the case, and Royal Rakem Williams, 17, has a warrant out for his arrest on a first-degree murder charge.

The club's owner, Thomas Benson, couldn't be reached for comment, but in a statement posted on the bar's website Wednesday, he called the shooting a "senseless act" and said he and the property's landlord have agreed that no nightclub or bar will ever again be allowed to open at that address.

"It is always a tragedy when someone is taken from us at such an early age with an entire lifetime ahead of them," Benson said on the website. "It is my wish that we soon see an end to this kind of glorified violence and that justice comes to those who are involved."

News of Bobbitt's death prompted nearly 400 people by Wednesday to add their names to an online petition for local and state authorities to shut down the bar, saying it is a known "breeding ground for harm" and that the bar doesn't have enough security, check IDs, search patrons or enforce rules on underage drinking.

James Thomas, Rocky Mount's interim police chief, said Wednesday that police served Benson with a letter informing him that the club was in violation of city ordinances and that it was working to revoke its alcohol permits.

It's unclear when Benson decided not to reopen the bar.