Incidents at the Platinum Lounge
The following incidents, not including the fatal shooting early Sunday, took place at the Platinum Lounge on Proctor Street and were reported in the Statesboro Herald. All information in the newspaper was based on police reports:
March 5, 2011: Three teens and two juveniles were arrested after an altercation at the Platinum Lounge. After a verbal argument, Statesboro police found the five young men in a car with apparently stolen and illegally owned firearms. The confrontation began between the five and others at the club, and apparently one of the offenders showed a firearm. Officers located the vehicle with the five offenders after they fled the scene and witnesses called to report the incident. No shots were fired during the altercation and no one was injured.
July 9, 2011: Police were called to the club at 2:41 a.m., after a naked man was seen running in the parking lot. According to police reports, the man, who was not identified, was "unresponsive to verbal commands." He was taken to East Georgia Regional Medical Center for treatment. During medical care, the man "became coherent." He then told officers an unknown person had given him a drink, and he remembered nothing afterwards.
Reported July 21, 2011: Officers responded to a report of shots fired in the club's parking lot. Witnesses said a man fired two shots in the air and left in his car.
Nov. 6, 2011: Around 12:22 a.m., Statesboro police officers stopped a car near the club when suddenly a fight broke out and shots were fired. Officers were unable to locate a gunshot victim or offenders, but were later called to East Georgia Regional Medical Center, a 23-year-old man was being treated for a gunshot wound to the leg. The victim was uncooperative and refused to press charges or even identify an offender. A second man was arrested and charged with obstruction of law enforcement for "not following orders." A 19-year-old man was involved in a fight around the same time at the club and suffered facial wounds when someone struck him in the face with a beer bottle, but no one was charged in that incident. Yet another fight at about the same time resulted in three arrests. And two cars were stolen from locations near the club, where patrons had parked, on the same night.
Jan. 29, 2012: Statesboro police responded to the report of shots being fired at 1:55 a.m. Witnesses told police two men fired shots and then fled on foot down South College and Elm Streets. One witness said one of the suspects fired more shots as he rounded a house on South College Street, but when police gave chase, the suspects jumped into a car and left the area. About an hour later, police Sgt. Chuck Forney was still in the parking lot near the club, observing activity, when he saw a male in a silver 2007 Suzuki Forenza fire four shots into the air nearby. People outside the club began running, and Forney called for backup. A short while later, officers stopped the car on South Main Street at Trellis Garden Inn and arrested a 17-year-old male for firearms violations and reckless conduct. Just before the Statesboro gunfire incidents, Metter police responded to a shooting at Club 46, off Metter-Portal Highway near Georgia Highway 46. A man was shot in the back and later flown to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah. Officers there also investigated shots fired at an Ellis Street location around the same time, and Metter police at the time said the incidents might be related to the Statesboro ones. No injuries were reported in the Statesboro incidents.
Police continue to hunt the killer or killers of a Statesboro woman, who was shot dead early Sunday morning in the parking lot outside the Platinum Lounge on Proctor Street.
In a news release Monday afternoon, Statesboro Public Safety Director Wendell Turner said Akeila Roschelle Martin, 32, of Statesboro, was killed by the gunfire and Sadondra Brianna Scarboro, 21, of Sylvania, was wounded. The police did not release any information or description about the shooter or shooters involved in the incident. No information was available on the condition of Scarboro.
According to witnesses, a large crowd was in the parking lot outside the nightclub when the shooting occurred. Platinum Lounge is located in the old "Sears" center in downtown Statesboro adjacent to Walnut Street and across from the offices of the Statesboro Herald.
Surveillance video taken with Herald security cameras shows a police cruiser in the area seconds before shots were fired around 2:50 a.m. Sunday near the club. Two eyewitnesses reported hearing four shots in quick succession, and in the aftermath, Martin was left dead with apparent gunshot wounds and Scarboro suffering from a gunshot wound.
Herald cameras outside the front of the office showed commotion in the parking area in front of Maxway. Immediately after shots were fired, people scattered, running in all directions. Shortly afterward, however, many returned to the scene.
Platinum Lounge, licensed as a restaurant by the City of Statesboro, is owned and operated by Hayward Fields. Attempts to reach Fields on Monday were unsuccessful.
Before the Sunday fatal shooting, the Herald reported five serious incidents in which police were called to the Platinum Lounge, which opened in October 2010. Three of those involved shots being fired, and one person was shot. That gunshot victim, however, refused to press charges.
Police and city officials have identified the location as an area of concern.
“I have been made aware that several complaints have come in regarding that establishment,” said Councilman Travis Chance, who added that council has not yet discussed the concern as a group. “I can’t say if the complaints were substantiated, but there has been a situation for a while now. It’s bad enough when there’s constant turmoil, but when someone loses their life, the issue demands direct and immediate attention.”
“I really don’t know what we can do, but we need to address it,” he said.
Local businesses upset
Area business owners also are disturbed.
“Two of our newspaper carriers were in the parking lot of the Statesboro Herald and witnessed the shootings outside the Platinum Lounge,” said Jim Healy, the operations manager for the Herald. “They were horrified by what they saw and scared, too. We have had carriers and employees threatened by patrons of the Platinum Lounge, the tires of work vehicles slashed and constant issues with parking.
“There have been more incidents of violence at this business than any other in Statesboro,” he said. “We have employees and carriers working late every Friday and Saturday night who are scared coming to work. That’s not right, and it needs to end.”
Eddie Stephens, who owns nearby Andrews Klean Korner, said he and other owners approached city staff with issues associated with the club.
“People park in the wrong lots and leave trash scattered throughout,” Stephens said.
Jerry Ranew, a Herald newspaper carrier who was picking up papers to deliver on his route Sunday morning, said he pushed his wife to safety behind his car when he heard the shots. Suddenly, several others who fled for safety hid behind his car, too.
After the shots, "people fled like roaches when the light is turned on," he said. "Cops were in the parking lot, sitting right there (several yards away from where the shootings occurred) when it happened."
Officers were called to the club earlier that night in response to an argument in the crowd, Ranew said.
Statesboro police routinely monitor the crowds during gatherings at Platinum Lounge, and in the past, shootings and other physical attacks have occurred when officers were in the vicinity, according to reports.
“The cops were sitting in the parking lot — they were right there when the shots were fired,” Ranew said of the Sunday incident.
Every weekend, the Platinum Lounge has crowds standing around outside because the club is filled to capacity, Ranew said.
“They are standing around, standing in the street,” he said. “There is no reason for them to be out there in the street. They’re not even in the club — the club is packed out. It is a street party.”
Men walk over and urinate on the Herald walls, and women have been seen urinating between parked cars, Ranew said.
“They need to shut that place down,” he said. “I blame the Statesboro police for letting (the shooting) happen. They should have broken (the crowd) up and sent everyone home (before the shooting occurred).”
Statesboro police Detective Keith Holloway, the lead investigator in the homicide and aggravated assault case, said a $2,500 reward is being offered to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Statesboro Police Department at (912) 764-9911 or send information to www.tipsoft.com or text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES). All information will be kept confidential.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.