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Recent Shootings Prompt Durham Leaders To Call For Changes

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DURHAM, N.C. — Two separate shootings at a popular area nightclub are prompting Durham leaders to call for changes.

Witnesses said there was some type of scuffle outside just after 1 a.m. Monday at MK's House of Jazz and R&B on East Main Street and a man fired a gun into the building.

"My understanding was that it was an individual that they had some concerns with earlier who had been ejected from the club and later returned, opened the door and just shot into the club," said Durham police chief Steve Chalmers.

Police said an 18-year-old woman standing near the front door was hit in the lower back. She is listed in stable condition at Duke Medical Center.

Police said the victim was an innocent bystander and not the intended target. They said the incident appears to be gang-related.

On Dec. 22, 2004, a 13-year-old girl was shot in the upper back during a drive-by shooting near the club. Police said the girl was sitting on a sidewalk bench waiting for a friend after leaving the club when she was shot shortly after 1 a.m.

The nightclub has been part of this area's revitalization, but now some people worry it is part of the problem.

"I think it could potentially put a slowdown on the revitalization that's been going on," business owner Dan Jewell said.

"This is a real problem, obviously," said Durham interim city manager Patrick Baker.

Baker plans to meet with the club's owner this week to determine what changes need to be made.

"It is your responsibility to control your clientele and if you are bringing a criminal element to downtown, maybe it is time to change your mode of business or your operation or your target audience," Baker said.

Baker said citing the club as a nuisance and shutting it down would be the city's last resort. In the last several years, three clubs have been shut down.

Police presence will be increased in the area this week, as well.

Anyone with information about either shooting is asked to call the Durham Police Department's Criminal Investigations Division at (919) 560-4440 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200.

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