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Birmingham Bar Closes After Shootings; Officials To Review Liquor Licensing

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(Credit: southbar.us)

(Credit: southbar.us)

BIRMINGHAM (WWJ) - A Birmingham bar is closing its doors for good following the second shooting in recent months, prompting city officials to discuss stricter liquor license requirements.

Woodward Tap, Inc., which owns and operates South Bar on S. Old Woodward, has decided to close and sell the business, issuing only the following explanation: “South Bar has decided, for various reasons, to close and sell the business.”

The announcement comes following a shooting involving their patrons in the early morning hours of Monday, July 16. South Bar also appeared in national media in a roundabout way when Tigers ace Justin Verlander reportedly took superstar swimsuit model Kate Upton there to cap off a well-reported weekend of togetherness.

In the shooting incident, police say three males — a 28-year-old from Auburn Hills, a 32-year-old from Troy and a 29-year-old from Pontiac — left South Bar around 2:15 a.m. and were assaulted on nearby Merrill Street by two people who had left South Bar minutes before.

A third person, who had been with the two suspects at South Bar, arrived at the scene in a 2008 Ford Taurus, and saw his friends in the fight. He stopped the car, got out of the driver seat and pointed a handgun at the original three victims, lighting them with a laser sight from the handgun. He fired one shot not striking anyone.

Three police officers who were on foot patrol nearby heard the shot and ran in that direction. Two suspects were arrested at the scene — 24-year-old Jerry Smith of Southfield and 23-year-old Darnell Ross of Detroit.

The driver, 22-year-old Ryan Smith of Southfield, fled in the vehicle and was apprehended at the intersection of Henrietta and Brown St. by a patrol car. Three loaded handguns were recovered from the vehicle, a .357 Glock, .45 Glock and a 9mm Glock, according to police.

Police said there was damage to Chase Bank, on the corner of Old Woodward and Merrill, where the bullet went through window mullions and scraped the glass.

Jerry Smith and Ross are charged with assault and battery, while Ryan Smith is charged with carrying a concealed weapon, malicious destruction to a building and carless discharge of a firearm causing damage

The shooting happened after Birmingham Police increased patrols in the downtown area following a similar incident involving South Bar patrons in the early morning hours of Monday, April 2 — during which a 29-year-old Redford woman shot a handgun into the air in the midst of a fight after the bar closed. No one was injured.

The city had considered asking South and other bars to halt service at midnight instead of 2 a.m. because of the incidents. Now, city leaders are considering zoning ordinance amendments that would place stricter controls on liquor licensed establishments in the future.

Birmingham City Manager Robert Bruner said the Monday, July 23 City Commission meeting agenda will include setting up a public hearing for Aug. 13 to consider filing a request with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to revoke the bar’s liquor license.

The commission issues liquor licenses and has the sole authority to revoke them. The city may file a request for revocation, but they first must conduct an investigation, set up a public hearing, serve the license holder with written notice of the hearing at least 10 days in advance and hold the hearing before making a determination.

Bruner said the Planning Board will discuss the proposed zoning ordinance amendments on Wednesday, July 25 and hold a public hearing on Wednesday, August 8.

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