- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2012

Prince George’s County police and fire officials shut down their second nightclub in a week Thursday, continuing their crackdown on problem venues that are either operating illegally or associated with violent crimes.

The Rendezvous Banquet Hall at 10207 Southard Drive in an industrial park in Beltsville was padlocked shut Thursday morning.

Public safety officials decided to close the club after investigators found it was over capacity by as many as 200 people on several occasions. The venue’s use and occupancy permit also had expired within the past month and, adding to the growing list of concerns, an assault was reported in the parking lot over Labor Day weekend, officials said.

“They had fights and different things of that nature,” county police spokesman Cpl. Clinton Copeland said.

The venue’s owners were issued a total of $20,000 in civil citations for operating over capacity and operating without a valid use and occupancy permit, said Lt. Justin Shea of the county fire department. The promoter who was operating an event on one of the nights the venue was over capacity was also issued a $5,000 civil citation for reckless endangerment, he said. The club’s capacity is 120 people.

The owners of Rendezvous could not be reached by phone Thursday.

The last club closed in the county was Club Elite, a Temple Hills venue that hosted comedy and music nights. It was padlocked Aug. 31 for licensing and dance permit violations. A man had been shot inside the club earlier that week, police said.

An administrative hearing on Club Elite’s closure is scheduled for Friday morning and officials will hear testimony about the events that led to the closure in order to determine whether the venue should be allowed to reopen.

Under the auspices of a new public safety law passed last year, the county has sought to better regulate nightclubs and other establishments to crack down on violent crime they say is associated with the businesses. The recent club closures have come as officials continue to inspect venues to determine whether they are following the stricter regulations put in place by the law.

“As we are going along, we are finding more violations,” said Lt. Jarriel Jordan, a county police officer with the Joint Agency Group, a multiagency organization that oversees enforcement of nightclub-related rules.

Problematic events at two other venues in August also caught officials’ attention, prompting additional investigations.

Officials temporarily closed Plaza 23 Event Center in Temple Hills for failure to follow its own security plan and for hosting an event it was not licensed to hold. After an administrative hearing Aug. 17, the venue was allowed to reopen for a limited selection of events. The club’s owners will have to devise a new security plan before they will be allowed to host dancing again, Lt. Jordan said.

Meanwhile, a Bowie T.G.I. Friday’s had to discontinue karaoke events but is allowed to remain open after an argument inside during one such event escalated into a fatal shooting in the parking lot of the restaurant. Alfred Ahmed Kamara, 19, was killed and another man wounding after leaving the restaurant in the early morning hours of Aug. 10.

Police met with owners of the restaurant, but found they were operating appropriately when the shooting occurred.

“They had all the current licenses,” Lt. Jordan said. “It’s just an unfortunate incident.”

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