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Revocation of businesses' liquor permits sought in Lorain


LORAIN - Last call for alcohol will come sooner than later at The Cotton Club, Gil's International Lounge and the High Point Liberty gas station if City Council members have their way.

Council on Wednesday recommended to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control that it revoke the liquor permits of the club and gas station. Council on Aug. 19 recommended revocation for Gil's.

Matt Mullins, a division spokesman, couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday on when a revocation hearing will be held.

Council members Brian Gates, D-1st Ward; Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward; Bret Schuster, D-4th Ward; Rick Lucente, D-6th Ward; Frank DeTilio, D-7th Ward; Dan Given, D-at large; and Tony Richardson, D-at large, on Wednesday voted yes. Councilman Eddie Edwards, D-5th Ward, voted no. Councilman Tim Howard, D-3rd Ward, and at-large Councilwoman Anne Molnar were absent.

Police on Tuesday provided Council with a synopsis of complaints for the club, High Point and Gil's. Gil's, 1840 E. 28th St., has a violent history, including an October incident in which police said an 18-year-old man was found shot in the bar. Bar manager Mark Parker told The Chronicle-Telegram on Wednesday that the man was shot outside the bar and came in to get help.

The synopsis said police had responded to 59 calls to Gil's between Jan. 1 and Aug. 1. It documented 12 incidents between Jan. 5 and June 24, including a fight in which a person reported being stabbed while breaking up a fight on the dance floor.

The synopsis included eight incidents at the Cotton Club, 1766 E. 28th St., including an alleged assault of an employee by a customer, gambling outside the bar and a shots-fired call in which a shell casing was found outside the bar. The most-serious incident was a Jan 1 fight inside the bar involving Desmen Noble which led to shots fired in the parking lot.

Shortly after the fight, Noble is accused of fatally shooting Herman Seagers at High Point, 2436 Broadway - formerly Liberty Gas - about 1.6 miles away. The synopsis said High Point is "continuously" selling alcohol to underage customers and documented three incidents this year in which people under 21 bought alcohol in police stings.

Despite the incidents, the businesses' owners and several supporters said they were being unfairly singled out. Gil Shields, whose family owns Gil's, said police cruisers continually sit outside the bar to discourage business.

"Councilman, you all don't know. You're not there," said Shields, who said he opened the bar in 1989. "As soon as I can sell this joint, you ain't gotta worry about me being here again."

Cotton Club owner Anthony Barnhill, who opened the club in October, said he fired bartenders who served alcohol after hours - the club serves food and non-alcoholic beverages after hours - and hired off-duty Cleveland police officers to improve security. Barnhill said he wants to work with Lorain officials to keep the club - which police say is a gang hangout - open and insisted he plays by the rules.

"A guy said he wanted to shoot me one night because I wouldn't sell him a drink," Barnhill said. "I said, 'Well, you're just going to have to shoot me. I'm not losing my license.'"

High Point owner Ameed Abuzahrieh said he's been trying to clean the station up since he bought it about two years ago. He said he hired three off-duty Lorain police to improve security and said surveillance video provided to police helped lead to quick arrests in the homicide.

Abuzahrieh said workers immediately call police if there is crime outside the station.

"It's our job to call 911 to protect our customers," he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or

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