Saturday, January 20, 2007

A teenage girl was shot and killed inside a Northwest nightclub early yesterday after a man pulled a gun during a confrontation with club security guards.

Taleshia Ford, 17, was on the second floor of the Smarta/Broadway Club at 1919 9th St. NW at about 2:20 a.m. when a stray bullet struck her in the chest. She was taken to Howard University Hospital and pronounced dead a short time later, police said.

Police said the shooter escaped.

Cmdr. Larry D. McCoy, of the Metropolitan Police Department’s 3rd District, said acting Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier is “very concerned” about the incident. He said the police chief plans to sign an order shutting down the club under a D.C. law that allows authorities to close clubs for up to 96 hours after a violent crime.

Oscar Wilson, the girl’s father, said his daughter was at the club with a group of friends and family members, and that she was not involved in the skirmish, which unfolded after a woman accused of smoking marijuana was removed from the club.

“From what I was told by the other teens in the neighborhood, [Taleshia] was on the second floor of the club at the time,” Mr. Wilson said.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, said he was told by clubgoers that the unidentified woman, after being thrown out of the club, went and got the man with the gun.

The man confronted security guards, pulled out the gun, and the scuffle broke out.

Mr. Wilson said Taleshia did not frequent the club and was there to watch a local band. He said he was told the club’s security precautions were limited to patting down patrons at the door.

“Without a metal detector, you could put a knife inside your shoe and make it past a pat-down,” he said. “The average teen in this city, two or three blocks from their home — sad to say — is going to have a weapon for protection.”

Mr. Graham is the chair of the council’s Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which has oversight of alcoholic licensing in the District. He said he thinks it is disturbing that city law allows minors in clubs that serve alcohol.

“This appears that this club had a ‘teen night’ that has been operating with regularity,” Mr. Graham said. “Underage persons are invited to come into a setting where there’s simultaneously a cash bar. … This raises very serious questions concerning regulations of who is or isn’t buying drinks.”

Mr. Graham said the club has been cited for prior, lesser violations and has been summoned before the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, which monitors compliance with the city’s liquor laws and regulations.

Mr. Graham, who introduced the legislation to allow the city to shutter establishments after violent crimes, said he has long considered barring minors from clubs serving alcohol.

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