- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 19, 2011

People aboard a party bus shot at after leaving a Northeast strip club last week were earlier involved in a fight at the club — the latest in a series of incidents there that include a stripper being hit in the face with a champagne bottle during a tussle between a patron and the entourage of rapper Lil’ Wayne, according to police reports.

The incidents are among 19 emergency calls this year from the 2100 block of Queens Chapel Road — an industrial area where the 13,000-square-foot Stadium Club and neighboring nightclub DC Star are located.

Most recently, the Stadium Club was the venue a party bus was leaving in the early hours of June 12 when shots were fired at the windshield. No one was struck by the shots. While it was initially reported the shooting stemmed from a road rage incident, U.S. Park Police are investigating whether the altercation earlier that night at the club precipitated the shooting.

A Metropolitan Police Department report states that a fight ensued inside the strip club about 30 minutes prior to the shooting and involved people riding the party bus, which was bound for Baltimore. The other individuals involved in the fight left the club before police arrived. As the party bus headed east on New York Avenue, a passenger riding in an older model BMW fired shots at the bus.

Since the club opened in 2010, the District’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) has investigated four assaults at the club, including the April champagne bottle incident that required 15 stitches for the stripper who was hit.

On June 2, the ABRA board voted unanimously to refer the champagne bottle assault case to the District’s OAG for a show-cause hearing, said OAG spokesman Ariel Waldman. The ABRA report for the April 3 incident also states the club was operating after hours at the time of the assault.

If the OAG determines there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the club in civil court, the club could face punishment ranging from fines to a suspension of its operating license or forced closure.

Because the party bus shooting occurred approximately one mile from the club, on New York Avenue near the ramp to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, the incident has not triggered a new investigation by ABRA, said ABRA spokeswoman Cynthia Simms. A venue can only be held responsible for incidents that occur within 1,000 feet of the establishment, she said.

Reached by phone, a spokeswoman for the club declined to comment.

Not all the calls police have responded to in the area this year were directly related to Stadium Club, but Fifth District Lt. Gary Durand said he’s seen an increase in the frequency of incidents requiring police assistance at the strip club since April, when they stopped paying for a $52-an-hour reimbursable police detail.

“I understand that it’s expensive,” said Lt. Durand, who oversees the police service area in which the club is located. “The fact of the matter is when the reimbursable details are there, there are less incidents because people know the difference between uniformed police versus security guards.”

On both the night of the party bus shooting and the champagne bottle assault, the Stadium Club was not paying for the extra police detail, he said.

The night of the champagne bottle assault, rappers Lil’ Wayne, Birdman and Wale were all scheduled to appear at the Stadium Club, according to the ABRA case report. The club stayed open later than allowed by ABRA rules to accommodate the rappers, who arrived late.

Around 2:40 a.m., a member of Lil’ Wayne’s security pushed a club patron, the ABRA report states. In retaliation, the man threw a champagne bottle, which inadvertently struck one of the strippers in the face while she was dancing on stage. The man who threw the bottle ran out of the club and got away.

According to ABRA reports, other assaults at the club have been intentional. In March, a man was injured when an acquaintance hit him in the face after he refused to loan the man $40. In May 2010, two female patrons fought in the club, and in June 2010, a homeless man attacked a parking lot attendant by hitting him in the face with a bottle.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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