Amarillo police concerned of continued violence with after-hour clubs

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 7:18 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Chief of police Martin Bikernfeld has spoken out after last Saturday’s shooting.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Chief Bikernfeld said, “The gun violence is unacceptable in our community. Businesses that choose to operate in such a way are also part of the problem.”

After hours establishments are not a new concept inside and outside city limits.

Back in 2019, seven people were shot at Hogg Penn.

Right after that incident community members and the police department held an emergency meeting to stop the violence in the community.

“It got a lot of mentorship groups a lot more involved,” said RJ Soleyjacks, community advocate and principal at Bivins Elementary.

Community advocates say a lot of the growth in neighborhood policing came from that meeting.

“A lot of those conversations were about the youth, that 18 to 20 something age about other ways that we can really get those individuals really active in our city,” said Soleyjacks. “I know my organization, 101 Elite Men, we took that meeting and we pieced together the skeleton for what we did this last summer with our first annual summer camp we held, where we included the police department in some of those things to talk about things like gun safety in the black community.”

However, the events of this past weekend show that possibly more needs to be done.

Pop-up clubs are typically businesses or private properties that could be violating occupancy rules or operating like a business without the necessary permits.

“So, you know, anybody can have people come over to their house as long as they’re staying within the laws, not causing a disturbance and doing other things like that,” said Jeb Hilton, public information officer at Amarillo Police Department. “That’s kind of how it is with a private location like this also. Bars have to work within regulations with us, with TABC, with Fire Marshall and a bunch of other people, and these places just don’t have to, they can’t just break any laws.”

Although Amarillo police has been able to shut down several of these businesses, the lack of regulation and irregular hours make these pop-up clubs hard to track down.

“One thing we do run through with clubs like these is a lack of cooperation from victims or a lack of cooperation from witnesses,” said Hilton.

He said the 2019 incident continues to be under investigation and asks for the community to be on the lookout for these type of establishments.

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