Crime-ridden Club Crave closed, declared 'public nuisance'

Crime-ridden Club Crave closed, declared 'public nuisance'

(WMC-TV) – Locks are already on the doors at Club Crave, which was declared a public nuisance Thursday by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and District Attorney Amy Weirich.

A 'closed' sign was placed on the door moments before the news conference was held to officially announce the closure.

This comes just days after a shooting killed one person and injured several others outside the nightclub on Christmas Eve.

In addition to the shooting death, witnesses said the gunfire started a stampede that injured one woman, who was rushed to the hospital.

"There is really no other way to say it except the community has had it with this location, the activity that seems to occur here," said District Attorney Amy Weirich. "The latest incident, as everyone knows, was unfortunately the loss of life and two others shot on Christmas Eve. That is what prompted us to take the action we have taken today."

She continued, "The community deserves better … We're going to make sure the community gets what they deserve in terms of a safe place and a location where we don't have to worry about crimes occurring inside the location, outside the location, or spilling out into other locations within the city. Residents of Shelby County deserve better than that."

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said a nuisance investigation was done in regards to the club between June 2011 and December 24, 2012.

"Throughout the investigation officers responded to Club Crave a total of 54 times," said Armstrong. "In a year's time from December 1, 2011 to December 24, 2012, officers have made a total of 175 arrests on or around the property at 380 Beale."

Those arrests include crimes ranging from aggravated assaults, burglaries, narcotics, and most recently, murder.

"We've done all we can do, it's almost on a nightly basis, any night that this club is open, we are basically responding to calls here, most recently the homicide that occurred here," said Armstrong. "We have done all that we can do, and there is nothing else for us to do but close this location."

Armstrong also said it is places like Club Crave that put tourists in a scary situation when they come to our city looking for fun.

"As you know, right across the street is the historical Beale Street district, this is not a part of that, but so often, our visitors of our city come to this club for entertainment and they find themselves in the middle of a lot of mischief," he said.

Right now, the closure is temporary, but Memphis Mayor A C Wharton hopes to change that.

"Can any good come out of this place? We're convinced that no good can ever come out of this place," he said as he explained what they plan to do next.

"We will very shortly file a condemnation petition, which basically means we tear down this place so we don't have to worry about injunctions. We're going to move to actually destroy this place, to tear it down. With so much difficulty playing the legal game, change of ownership," said Wharton. "Best way to deal with it is to tear the thing down."

"From the city standpoint, very shortly the city will be in charge of Beale Street. That litigation is pretty well wrapped up in the bankruptcy court, so it would be indeed odd for the City of Memphis to be in charge of the entertainment district and allow this kind of thing to happen," said Wharton. "It's not good for the merchants there, they don't want it, they're doing good business down there. We have tourists from around the world here, they deserve something better than this and they're going to get that once this horrible place is removed, once and forever."

There are a handful of other night clubs and apartment complexes that have been thought to be public nuisances or a threat to community safety by local politicians and law enforcement officials.

Memphis' history of 'public nuisances'

Another space that is reported to be a threat to public safety is the Warren Apartments where a 2-year-old girl was shot last week, Weirich weighed in saying she plans to work with Memphis police to make necessary arrests.

Plagued with gun violence and gang activity for nearly 10 years, the South Memphis apartment complex was dubbed a public nuisance by the district attorney's office in 2010.

Back in September another apartment complex was labeled a public nuisance by law enforcement officials.

It was the second time in just 16 months that officials declared the 900 plus unit Montera Park apartment complex a public nuisance.

Cleveion Coley, 16, was murdered outside of his apartment in this complex back in June this .

Another place of controversy is Club Hughes off of Thomas Avenue in North Memphis.

Also last week, two men in their 20s told Memphis Police they were shot and then ran out the rear of the building.

Former Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons in 2009 said when he shut the club down, he called it a public nuisance following several crimes in and around the venue.

"In terms of the club, we think those days should be over," Gibbons said.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV.  All rights reserved.