WKRG News 5

Nightclub shooting could cause city to make changes: Pensacola mayor

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Rule changes or forced closures could soon hit bottle clubs in Pensacola after a shooting at a downtown nightclub that left five injured over the weekend, according to Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson.

Robinson said Monday morning he had talked to a few city council members about whether or not bottle clubs, or bring-your-own alcohol clubs, had a place in Pensacola at all. Five people were shot early Saturday morning at the Pelican’s Nest nightclub in downtown Pensacola. Pensacola Police said the shooting was a targeted attack that injured innocent people.

“I talked to a couple of council members over the weekend,” Robinson said. “Some of them are prepared to come back and say that maybe we don’t need bottle clubs in the City of Pensacola.”

Robinson said the shooting is alarming, given the Pelican’s Nest’s history.

“This area has been a troubling area for the city as we’ve tried to work through it multiple times,” Robinson said. “We thought we had a process with the owner there where they had security where nobody could bring weapons into the place. Obviously, I don’t know what happened … If this is the behavior that we’re going to get, maybe we don’t need that here.”

Robinson suggested Monday morning that Pensacola’s city council could do away with B-Y-O-B bottle clubs altogether or require them to abide by new rules. A few years ago, the city required bottle clubs and after-hours clubs to close at the same time as other clubs in downtown Pensacola.

Robinson said the city council could also change the city code to not allow bottle clubs if problems persist.

“We’ve worked really hard to promote vibrancy in our downtown and try to address those things. We continue to have fairly good compliance across the area except for one establishment, so I say we ought to look at how the establishment operates,” Robinson said. “We have other places downtown that don’t have this experience.”

What changes are coming are unclear at this time, but Mayor Robinson says the city is prepared to take action in the next few months.

After Robinson’s press conference, Pelican’s Nest staff released a statement, which says the nightclub plans to add enhanced security following the shooting.

The statement says staff members are “saddened by the unfortunate incident that took place at our establishment gallery night. We have fought very hard to keep our club open for everyone to safely enjoy. It angers us that people would risk losing our establishment as well as injuring (others) for ignorance. It will not be tolerated.”

The statement says the club will install metal detectors, which guests will be required to walk through. No book bags will be allowed and purses will be searched, according to a Facebook post.

The club says more surveillance cameras will be installed.

“We will continue to pray for a quick recovery on all injured customers as well as the emotional toll it took on our staff,” the post says. “We appreciate all the support and concerns we have received from all of our customers. We look forward to seeing you all once we reopen this Thursday night.”

Pensacola Police do not yet know who pulled the trigger early Saturday morning. There is no shooting suspect information at this time. Police say surveillance video, though it is not good quality due to angles, lighting and the crowd, was being reviewed and sorted through on Monday.

Police are seeking assistance through tips and leads from the community.