By Yolanda Woodlee and Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 3, 2005
An owner of the nightclub in a government building where a patron was stabbed to death last month said yesterday that security is so tight at the club that he lets his mother, aunt and godmother work there.
"If the place wasn't safe, we wouldn't have them working there," Warren C. Williams Jr., an owner of Club U, said in an interview outside a hearing about the nightspot. "I wouldn't be working there. We're not interested in covering anything up."
Williams, 32, who owns Club U with his father, Warren C. Williams Sr., said in the interview that Terrence Brown, 31, could not have been killed Feb. 13 inside the club at 14th and U streets NW, in the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center.
Williams was one of a series of witnesses who testified yesterday before the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board during a license hearing that lasted for more than 11 hours, extending late into the night.
The board suspended the club's license Feb. 13, hours after Brown was killed, another club patron was beaten and paramedics were shot at when they arrived to help.
Owners and supporters of Club U are trying to persuade the board to restore its liquor license. They also are trying to dispel the notion that the club attracts violent offenders drawn to the Saturday night go-go music.
Civil rights activist Lawrence Guyot Jr. said at the hearing that community-minded residents patronize the club, particularly Thursday nights when there is an older crowd.
Prosecutors from the city's Office of the Attorney General have said several violent incidents--including three homicides, two nonfatal stabbings and at least two assaults on police officers--have occurred in or near the club since March 2003.
Williams said it is unfair to blame Club U for anything that happens after patrons leave because the club is not responsible for security outside its premises. He said he has offered to reimburse D.C. police to provide additional protection at the club but was told it could not be made available. If it could, he said in testimony, "that would cure" many problems.
Before the recent incident, "we've never had a violent act occur inside the Reeves Center," Williams said. "We don't believe this incurred inside our leased premises."
Williams said Brown was escorted from the establishment after he was involved in a fight with another patron. Williams said Brown was attacked in the atrium of the Reeves Center, which is monitored by the city's Protective Services officers. The officers guard District government buildings.
There is conflicting evidence as to where Brown was stabbed. A police crime scene investigator testified last week that bloodstains were found on a wall at Club U. He also testified that he interviewed a witness who said Brown was attacked on the dance floor. David Wilmot, attorney for the Williamses, said it has not been determined whether it was Brown's blood.
The younger Williams and Jimmie Lee Parker, head of Club U security, said that the club is protected by three layers of.