Downtown Atlanta nightclub permanently shut down after deadly shootings
ATLANTA - An embattled Atlanta nightclub has permanently closed its doors after a string of shootings and more than a hundred police calls.
Encore Hookah Bar and Bistro announced the closure on Instagram after a lawsuit from the city and an impending eviction due to the violence. Its final night of business was Sunday.
"They can close our doors, but they can’t take our memories," the lounge’s post says. "If you haven’t heard, after a long battle with the powers that be, [Encore] is closing for good. Don’t worry, though, I’ll be back and better."
Atlanta police said they had been called to the establishment 171 times in the last two years.
Among those who lost their lives at the club was 28-year-old Ty Ross, one of its security guards. Police said 21-year-old Damon Wilson shot Ross after Wilson was ejected from the club.
Ever since Ross’ girlfriend Aaliyah Strong has been on a mission to see the bar closed, and nightclub violence in Atlanta addressed.
"It started with an Encore, but it won’t end with Encore," she said. "I feel like now the city is finally realizing that this really is a problem."
When FOX 5 cameras showed up on Monday evening, the place was already being ripped apart. Trash and bartending utensils were tossed near the entrance and the dumpster was overflowing.
Now that it’s closed, Strong is shifting her focus to preventing nightclub gun violence throughout Atlanta..
"It’s about every single place that’s in the city that’s running without insurance or not properly protecting their employees," she said.
Mayor Andre Dickens vowed to address the issues with what he called a "Nightlife Division."
A spokesperson for Dickens said over the weekend, the city held its first-ever training day workshop for clubs geared toward safety.
But Strong wants to take it further, with a new state law.
"The bill I want to pass is specifically for security teams, and clubs and lounges," Strong said. "It’s to ensure that they have the proper insurance, the proper training, and things like that for their employees."
She said she’s also working on launching an organization to advocate for nightlife worker safety and provide support for victims’ families.
Already, Strong said the family of another security guard that was shot and killed on the job has already reached out.
"I feel like this is just a part of justice, but we have a long, long way to go," Strong said.