Prince George’s County had its first opportunity to test its new bill as Music Sports and Games Bar and Café has been closed after a double shooting in the early morning hours of Aug. 8 has now claimed a life.

Police responded at 2:44 a.m. to a report of a shooting at the establishment in the 7900 block of Central Avenue. When police arrived, officers discovered a female victim, 20-year-old Jasmine Banks, with serious injuries and a male with non-life threatening injuries.

Banks was transported to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injuries on Aug 9.

Police officials are giving no information on possible suspects or motive in the shooting, but MSG itself has been closed for what officials are calling a lack of proper permits.

Documents say that on May 18, MSG’s owner Erik Pickens was denied a public dance license and, therefore, was in violation of the county’s new dance hall bill.

Pickens, along with Jerome Tillery, a promoter, and two managers, Darryl Robinson and Ronald Dixon, have all been charged with operating a dance hall without a license.

Making matters worse, is that police say underage persons were drinking alcoholic beverages in the club before the shooting took place.

“For far too long, we have had too much violence and public disturbance related to dance halls in our community,” said County Executive Rushern Baker in a statement. “ gives our Department of Environmental Resources, along with our Police and Fire Departments, the added tools to effectively monitor, patrol and mitigate public safety issues that originate and/or are connected to dance halls.”

The club itself has had a history of violence. Last year, when the club was known as the La Pearl Ballroom, a shooting occurred on March 25 with the assailants being involved in a car accident while leaving the scene.

In 2009, several other violent incidents occurred at the club.

These acts of violence at this club and some of the county’s other nightspots prompted action by Prince George’s County Councilwoman Karen Toles, D.-Dist-7, who says the swift action as a result of this bill should serve as a warning to other nightclub owners.

“We cannot continue to lose lives in Prince George’s County as it relates to these establishments,” Toles said. “I want to commend the Prince George’s County Police Department, our state’s attorney’s office as well as the Department of Environmental Resources for their swift action in ensuring that this establishment does get shut down because of the criminal activity.”

MSG owners have 72 hours to appeal the ruling and appear before a board to plead their case.

Police are offering a reward to help with the investigation into the shooting.

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO