City officials Tuesday revoked the operating licenses of the Felton Supper Club, while the District Attorney's Office pledged steps that could permanently padlock the nuisance nightclub, where nine people were wounded in a brazen weekend shooting.
Meanwhile, according to public records and State Police Liquor Control Enforcement officials, club operator Omar Infante has been running the spot illegally for months with someone else's liquor license.
Officials from the city's Department of License and Inspections notified Infante that they were revoking his special-occupancy license, which the city had granted the rap and Latin music promoter in April, after the club corrected code violations that led to a temporary closing.
The license was pulled because of "incidents of violence, crimes, overcrowding, and other public nuisances," the department stated in a letter.
A dozen people have been shot in incidents tied to the club over the last five months. 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.
Tuesday, police released surveillance video of the latest gunplay, which occurred early Sunday morning and wounded nine.
The footage, taken from a camera at a nearby check-cashing store, shows two shooters, who look to be in their late teens or early 20s, strut into the congested traffic of Rising Sun Avenue and Louden Street. They then pulled out silver handguns and fired into a crowd lingering outside the club after closing time.
The shooters' faces are not clearly visible. One, wearing a dark hoodie with white lettering, fired again and again as he lunged toward the crowd. The other, wearing a gray hoodie, shot into the jam of people as he ran away. The shooters fled east down Loudon, toward an unidentified getaway car at a nearby Rite Aid, police said.
"We need the public's assistance identifying these two individuals who are out there shooting indiscriminately," Capt. John Gallagher of East Detectives said during a news conference.
Investigators have interviewed six of the victims, plus two eyewitnesses, Gallagher said, but have yet to identify the intended target of the attack. Four men and five women were hit.
The owners and staff of the club have been "very cooperative," Gallagher said.
Police do not believe an incident inside the club that night led to the shooting. Nor do investigators believe that the shooters had been inside the club, Gallagher said.
The club had at least 20 private security personnel at an event that night as well as metal detectors, Gallagher said. Investigators speculate that the shooters planned their attack knowing that club patrons exiting the club would be unarmed.
L&I first closed the club in 2009 for selling drinks to underage patrons, selling alcohol after hours, and for various fire and electrical issues, according to city records. After addressing the violations, the club was allowed to reopen under the agreement that owners would notify police when they were holding large events.
Capt. Frank Vanore of the 25th District said he has been trying to close the club since he took over the district in 2010. He said that he worked with club operators to ensure extra patrols were added on event nights, but that the club did not notify police of the latest event.
State police liquor control enforcement officers conducted undercover surveillance earlier this month, just weeks after the club was given permission to reopen, finding that alcohol was being served after 2 a.m. and other violations.
State police notified the owners of the violations in a May 17 letter. Although the letter was forwarded to the city, it is unclear when it arrived, city spokesman Mark McDonald said.
Of the city's actions Tuesday, McDonald said: "In light of the heinous act of violence in recent days and a pattern of violent activity in and around the venue, the city took action to protect the health and welfare of its citizens."
Beth Grossman, chief assistant district attorney of the public nuisance task force, said her office anticipates filing an injunction in civil court that, if approved, would keep the club closed for at least a year.
According to state Liquor Control Board records, Infante does not own the club's liquor license and therefore should not have been operating the club.
Sgt. Bill LaTorre of the liquor control enforcement agency said lawyers representing the owners of the license have been contacting his office since April trying to stop Infante from using the license. The actual owners of the license are listed as Jeffrey Blandon and Grace Mejia Jimenez.
Infante would not return the liquor license to the pair, who wanted to place it in safekeeping with the LCB, LaTorre said.
LaTorre said his office was investigating possible criminal activity involving the club.
Ricardo Jefferson, the attorney for Infante, said his client had rented the club out to a party promoter named Ali Smith on the night of the shooting. Jefferson said he did not have a copy of a written contract of the agreement or Smith's contact information.