D.C. police used new emergency powers to shut down a Northwest Washington nightspot after four men were shot and wounded outside the club early yesterday.
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey last night signed an order closing Kili's Kafe for up to four days under a law that took effect in September, authorities said. It is the first time that a nightspot has been closed under the law, which is meant to deter violence, they said.
The shooting took place about 2:45 a.m. as the men were standing outside the club in the 2000 block of Eighth Street, police said. At least one gunman fired more than 30 bullets -- all in front of several uniformed police officers working an off-duty security detail outside the club, police officials said.
An 18-year-old D.C. man was shot several times, another 18-year-old D.C. man was struck in the leg and a 23-year-old D.C. man was hit in the back, police said. They were hospitalized with what police described as serious but non-life-threatening wounds. A 27-year-old D.C. man suffered a graze wound and drove himself to a hospital.
Police did not identify the victims because they are witnesses.
At least one of the victims had been inside the club, police said. Detectives are investigating whether the shooting was prompted by an altercation inside.
The shooting follows several other violent incidents near the club, police said.
In June, an Iraq war veteran, Army Sgt. Antrevyn Mason-Black, 24, was killed and a friend was wounded as they left the nightspot. Police quickly made an arrest in that case.
On Nov. 6, Cortez Mayo, 20, was fatally shot a block from Kili's, and police are investigating whether that incident was connected to the club. No arrests have been made in that case.
The law was passed after a fatal stabbing in February inside Club U, a popular hip-hop spot in the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center. In the past, Ramsey had the authority to shut down a nightclub for one day.
"We feel that if we allow it to stay open, there will be a chance of somebody getting hurt," Assistant Chief Peter Newsham said. "We are talking about a serious public safety issue."
The city's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will probably convene a hearing in the next day or two to decide whether to pull the club's liquor license, city officials said.
The club's owner, Victoria Kibunja, said she will fight the closure. Kili's Kafe had nothing to do with yesterday's shooting or other acts of violence, she said.
Kibunja has hired several D.C. police officers at $57 an hour each to patrol outside the club since June. At least five officers were outside when the shooting occurred, she said.
"It was a random shooting," she said. "We have done everything we could do."
In a written statement, Kibunja said the gunman opened fire on the block as he drove past in a car. She also said D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), motivated by "political grandstanding," has been trying to shut the club.
Graham denied the allegations, saying he believes that the club has attracted violence to the area.
"Hopefully, tomorrow, the ABC board will suspend the license," Graham said.