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Business Owners Meet Over Concerns Following Nightclub Shootings

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DURHAM, N.C. — A troubled nightclub in Durham is closed, but not because of the City Council.

Two shootings within two weeks of each other near MK's House of Jazz and R&B prompted an investigation by the city and police. As a result, ALE agents found the club's owner was operating without a proper liquor license.

The owner has temporarily shut the place down.

On Thursday, city council members discussed possible legal action that would close the club permanently.

"The message I want to send is that this is unacceptable for Durham whether it's downtown, north, east, central or Southpoint. It's unacceptable and we're willing to do what we can to send the message," city councilor Thomas Stith said.

Downtown business owners and boosters worry the shootings will impact their bottom line. They are concerned customers will not make the trip downtown if they do not feel safe.

Thursday night, city business owners met with interim City Manager Patrick Baker to discuss everything from traffic problems to city leadership.

The concerns come following the two recent shootings at the club in which the victims were 13 and 18 years old.

"When you hear about young people being shot in downtown Durham, you could go through multiple layers of concern," Baker said. "As interim city manager, I get the phone call from the mayor saying, 'What are you going to do about it?'"

The idea of permanently shutting down MK's is an option that has mixed support among business owners.

"When you just go and shut down a club, it's usually just two individuals out of 100 that really cause a problem. Therefore, it's really not the club, it's just those individuals," a business owner said.

"I think business owners need to be responsible. We need to make sure there's a safe environment for everyone, whether it's a bar or a pub," another business owner said.

"We do not use this to violate people's rights or shut down clubs indiscriminately. We take this very seriously, but the bottom line is we will abate the nuisance," Baker said.

The interim city manager offered no timetable on when or if the city would attempt to permanently shut down the club. He did say the club owner is cooperating, although he was not present at Thursday's meeting.

Starting this weekend, police will triple the number of officers patrolling the downtown area during the evening hours.

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