Note: This story was updated Dec. 16 to clarify the location of the incident.
Chattanooga police are investigating a fight and shooting they say happened early Sunday morning in front of the Blue Light nightclub on Station Street.
Sgt. Jeremy Eames, public information officer for the department, said in an email there was "another fight/large disorder" outside the club around 2:40 a.m. Sunday. He added there was also a shooting that has been "determined to be accidental and self-inflicted."
"The incident is under further investigation," he said.
Blue Light co-owner Brian Joyce denied in a text and later by phone that the club had anything to do with the incident and said neither he nor anyone on his staff had been contacted about it. He questioned why police would be talking about the incident to members of the media, and management at nearby venues Regan's and Westbound, but not anyone at Blue Light.
"Wow. It's shocking that [Chattanooga Police Department] is reporting this to third parties, but not the parties that are allegedly directly involved," Joyce wrote. "If there was credible evidence of a fight or shooting outside my business, you'd think they'd take witness statements, question me or my staff, make sure everyone is OK, etc. Instead, I haven't heard anything about it. But I'm getting questions about it from the media two days later when I'm still in the dark.
"Sounds more like an ongoing setup, much like the rest of the [BS] I've been subjected to.
"An argument outside Westbound turns into a fight & shooting outside the Blue Light. Strange how that works. Even stranger that CPD hasn't mentioned anything about it to me or questioned me or my staff, but has talked to Regan's, Westbound, 'third parties' and the media about it. Very odd."
Comedy Catch owner Michael Alfano and Regan's manager Michael Hardin said Regan's, Westbound and the Comedy Catch, which are located either across Station Street or next to Blue Light, were all closed by 2 a.m.
"I do it to have my customers clear of the street by 2:30 [a.m.]," Alfano said.
Off-duty police officers are paid by nearby businesses to patrol the area, and though they are technically not on the city's clock, they are in uniform and in their patrol cars and function as official police officers when required.
Joyce questioned if that constituted a conflict of interest.
"Even odder that at least one of the officers investigating this alleged 'fight/shooting' is paid by the owner of Regan's & Westbound to patrol Station Street. Not that that's a conflict of interest.
"Of course, I'm too busy running a business to engage in this nonsense."
Security video from a nearby property was reviewed by the Times Free Press and shows participants of the altercation leaving the Blue Light before, during and after the altercation. It also appears to show someone pull a gun from his pants and what sounds like a gunshot take place before people scatter. The person with the apparent gun appears to hobble toward the Blue Light.
The Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker Board voted on Nov. 17 to revoke the beer license for the almost 4-month-old Blue Light club after it was found to have violated six city codes related to the sale of beer, including selling beer off-site without a permit, operating a disorderly place and allowing management or staff to drink or be inebriated on the premise. The Blue Light has appealed the decision in Chancery Court and was given a stay allowing it to remain open until the case is heard or dismissed.
Even if the license is revoked, the Blue Light can open without selling beer. When the Beer Board suspends or revokes a beer license at an establishment that also sells liquor, the case is forwarded to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which can then also choose to suspend or revoke the liquor license. The establishment can appeal that as well. Joyce said the appeals are pending.
In addition, the club's landlord, NorthPond Partners, issued a default against the club and started eviction proceedings against the Blue Light, according to Merri Hurn with Second Story Real Estate, which manages the retail portion of the Choo Choo for NorthPond. That also is under appeal.
Staff writer La Shawn Pagán contributed to this report.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.