- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2006

Elected officials and community leaders in Laurel are outraged that a recent shooting at a nightclub occurred just a few months after they had lobbied against the establishment to county liquor regulators.

“The pattern is, trouble follows them,” Delegate Brian R. Moe, Laurel Democrat, said of Club Amazon’s ownership, which previously ran a strip club in Hyattsville called the Stardust Inn.

The Stardust Inn ran afoul of county liquor regulators in 2003 after a triple homicide in its parking lot.

Club Amazon plans to temporarily close by next week, pending a “show cause” hearing next month before the county’s liquor board to review the club’s operations.

The Washington Times first reported about the club’s move from Hyattsville to Laurel in December.

Speaking at a meeting of the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners Wednesday night, Mr. Moe was one of several elected officials who called for the immediate closure of Club Amazon.

“This is a critical situation,” said Thomas E. Dernoga, Laurel Democrat and chairman of the Prince George’s County Council, who expressed concern that violence at or near the club has strained police services.

The calls for Club Amazon’s closure come after police were called to an April 22 shooting in which a man suffering gunshot wounds was found just outside the club.

One man was shot three times and suffered life-threatening injuries, and several nearby cars were shot, according to Laurel and county police officers who testified before the board Tuesday.

Club owner Robyn Kim told the liquor board that she wants to operate the establishment as a family restaurant. Speaking of the shooting, she said, “An unfortunate incident occurred.”

“We have full intentions of running a restaurant,” Mrs. Kim said.

The club’s ownership previously pledged to operate the nightclub as a family restaurant amid opposition earlier this year from community groups to plans to turn Club Amazon into a strip club.

Located at Contee Road and Baltimore Avenue, Club Amazon sits in a shopping complex across the street from a furniture store.

“Right now we’re just trying to promote the place,” Mrs. Kim said.

County liquor board Chairman Franklin Jackson questioned why the club had been operating in apparent violation of restrictions against live entertainment and other rules.

But Mr. Jackson said the liquor board could not force the club to shut down until after it held a hearing.

“We’re restrained by a small document called the U.S. Constitution,” Mr. Jackson said. “We do not have the authority without having a hearing on the issue.”

Delegate Barbara Frush, Prince George’s Democrat, said the liquor board could close the club. She said the establishment isn’t even operating a kitchen, casting doubt on the ownership’s pledge to run the place as a restaurant.

“We have a restaurant that’s operating without a kitchen,” she said. “I find that ludicrous.”

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