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D.C. Suspends Club's License

Fatal Stabbing Is Latest in Series of Crimes

By Eric M. Weiss and Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, February 15, 2005; Page B01

The D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board suspended the liquor license yesterday of a U Street NW go-go club with a history of violence committed by its patrons, including a fatal stabbing early Sunday.

Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey asked the ABC to revoke the license "for the safety and security of the people who go to Club U and live nearby." Ramsey said more than a dozen serious crimes, including three homicides, have taken place within a block of the nightclub since early 2003.

Patrons dance at Club U, a restaurant that has leased space in the Reeves Municipal Center since 1993 and that becomes a go-go club two nights a week. (2003 Photo Dudley M. Brooks -- The Washington Post)

Early Sunday, a club patron, Terrence Brown, 31, was stabbed to death, a woman was knocked unconscious and a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle. Police also are investigating reports of gunfire, according to an investigation by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, the administrative agency.

An attorney for the club said the owners would appeal the license suspension and request a hearing, which by law must be held within five days. At that hearing, the board could vote to allow the club to open with conditions, temporarily suspend operations or permanently revoke the license, a spokesman said.

David Wilmot, who represents owners Warren C. Williams and Warren C. Williams Jr., said the father and son "have a lot invested in this business, and they believe they have done what is required under the law and ABC regulations."

The nightclub has been operated by the Williamses since 1993 and is in the Reeves Municipal Center, a city building at 14th and U streets NW where hundreds of government employees work. The club is scheduled to move out within two years as part of a settlement with the city, which had accused the owners of violating the lease by staging late-night events. But community and city leaders said the owners' liquor license should be revoked immediately.

"This is just the first step," said Bill Glew, president of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, which has filed a separate challenge to the liquor license, citing public safety concerns. The association had been negotiating with the club to improve security and make other changes. "But after this weekend, I can't imagine the residents would want anything else but revocation," Glew said.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who represents the now-popular area around the club, said he will introduce legislation today to make it easier to suspend a liquor license. The ABC board had to schedule an emergency session yesterday to vote on the suspension.

Ramsey's request for a license revocation, addressed to ABC Director Maria Delaney, is similar to one he sent in November. In that letter, Ramsey said there had been 12 serious crimes within a block of Club U in the preceding 17 months.

Ramsey cited the fatal stabbing of a 37-year-old man in September and the wounding of a police officer in November 2003.

The police officer was wounded when he tried to apprehend a gunman who had just shot two other men after an argument. Edward Williams, 27, of the 400 block of K Street NW was convicted of three counts of assault with intent to kill and related charges Feb. 7. His sentencing is scheduled for April.

Police said a homicide in March 2003 also has been linked to the club. In that incident, Randy E. Stanton, 26, was fatally shot after an argument.

Jeff Coudriet, a spokesman for the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, said Ramsey's first letter was sent to the attorney general's office, which will advise the agency on what violations might have occurred. A spokeswoman for the attorney general said the matter is being reviewed.

Police have made no arrests in the weekend stabbing of Brown and said they did not have a suspect. Police officials said it appeared that Brown was stabbed after an altercation in the club. A woman also was assaulted, and police officials said they were investigating the possibility that the two crimes were connected.

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