As police and city officials stood in front of the troubled Feltonville club where nine people had been shot and injured early Sunday morning, Mayor Nutter vowed that the club would never again open its doors to patrons.
But it was the city that signed off on allowing the Felton Supper Club to reopen last month, the mayor's office acknowledged Monday.
After the city closed the club in January after a fatal shooting, owners Maria Lopez and Omar Infante successfully petitioned the city to reconsider. The city's Department of Licenses and Inspections found that the owners had resolved code issues and acquired the licenses required to run the club, Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said. The owners also agreed to let police know whenever an event was planned at the club.
"It's easy to look back and say this outfit should not have been allowed to open," McDonald said. "But what's clear now is that this outfit is squarely in the sights of police, L&I, the law department, and the District Attorney's Office."
Lopez, Infante, and their attorneys could not be reached for comment.
Nutter initially told reporters Sunday that a judge's ruling had allowed the club to reopen. Monday, McDonald said that the mayor had been given inaccurate information.
In his remarks, Nutter said the city would be aggressive in its efforts to keep the club shut. L&I will move to revoke the licenses, McDonald said, and the Police Department is working with the law department to have the club designated a nuisance. Ultimately, closing the club will be up to the District Attorney's Office.
The shootings took place about 2:45 a.m. Sunday outside the club on the 4800 block of Rising Sun Avenue. Police said two young men left the club and opened fire in the street. Five women and four men, ages 19 to 35, were shot.
All were in stable condition at Temple University Hospital or Albert Einstein Medical Center, according to police. No arrests have been made, and no motive has been established.
Gunfire has erupted at or near the club several times in the last year. In December, a man was shot on the dance floor. On New Year's Day, a man was shot and killed as he walked home from the club after an argument that police said started inside.
Even before last weekend, the club was under renewed scrutiny by authorities. The State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement conducted undercover surveillance earlier this month, just weeks after the club was given permission to reopen, and found alcohol was being served after 2 a.m. and being taken outside, both of which are illegal. The violations were reported to the city, but McDonald said it was unclear Monday whether that report had been received yet.
The Felton Supper Club has been in negotiations with the city since at least August 2009, when L&I closed the bar for underage drinking, selling alcohol after hours, and for various fire and electrical issues, according to city records. In September 2009, the owners agreed to bring the club to compliance and to apply for a license that would permit them to host as many as 450 people. They agreed they would close at 2 a.m., and paid at least $5,000 in fines to the city, McDonald said.
Over the next year, the club owners took steps to comply with mandates, such as resolving fire code issues, McDonald said. But after the shootings in December and January, L&I found the owners had never obtained one of the occupancy licenses they needed and shut the club. The owners appealed, but were denied by a Common Pleas Court judge, records show.
Last month, McDonald said, the owners showed the city that they had brought the building to compliance and secured all required licenses.
Because of the recent shootings, the owners were also required to let police know when the club would be open for an event - a condition of the agreement that they did not fulfill, McDonald said.