published Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Police were at Chattanooga event hall where men allegedly ingested ecstasy

  • photo
    Seen Tuesday, River City event hall on Wilcox Boulevard is located next to a now-closed Food Lion store.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

Police arrested a 24-year-old Chattanooga man at the party Saturday night where at least two men ingested Ecstasy.

"It's a little Molly [a pure form of ecstasy] ... to help keep me up," Darius Blakemore told police.

Police arrested Blakemore when he couldn't provide an ID and appeared to be under the influence. Blakemore had open warrants for his arrest and had given his identification to his little brother to get into the party at the River City event hall at 3201 Wilcox Blvd. When placing him in handcuffs, police found a small twisted bag containing white powder, according to the arrest report.

The event hall owner says drugs were not sold or given out at the rap music show.

Throughout most of the show at River City event hall, police were there checking for any illegal liquor sales and underage drinking. They found none of those violations, police said.

"Any young man that had anything on him, you better believe when the police came in they were making a line out that door," said River City event hall owner Gwen Blackmon.

Two men -- Roger Bell and Antonio Espey -- attended the party and told police they used ecstasy there. Police interviewed them at HCA Parkridge Medical Center where they were being treated for drug overdoses on ecstasy. A third man, Robert Allen, was pronounced dead at the hospital when he was dropped off. His toxicology results are pending from the medical examiner's office. It is not clear whether he was at the party. Police said none of men appear to be connected to one another.

Blackmon said Tuesday she recognized one of the men. He was kicked out shortly after he arrived and lit a cigarette, she said. He wasn't allowed to go back inside.

No drugs or cigarettes are allowed in the event hall, she said. Identification is checked, Purses are not allowed in. Everyone is searched. Fourteen private security guards were hired to work inside and outside the venue that held between 300 and 400 people Saturday night, she said.

The city only requires Blackmon hire two security guards.

She has heard from party-goers that there was an after party where drugs most likely were used. Police said they did not received any reports of an after-party, such as loud music or noise, or lots of cars in one place.

Chattanooga police were at the event hall just after 1 a.m. -- two uniformed patrol officers, two officers from the department's regulatory unit and three agents with the state's Alcoholic Beverage Commission were inside. Some members of the police department's crime suppression unit were outside of the venue.

"They stayed in here the whole time," Blackmon said.

When a fight broke out at 2:49 p.m., more patrol officers responded. Blackmon's hired security personnel used pepper spray to make people exit the venue.

No one was arrested for the fight, but Blackmon will face a citation from the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board for operating a disorderly place. No other violations were noted. Records show she never had to go before the beer board since she began operating her business as an event hall in 2011.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.

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