Eureka Fights

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Questions, ideas fly as city leaders grapple with fights outside Eureka

By John Howell Sr.

Batesville’s mayor and aldermen at an April 13 meeting viewed a video recorded by a patrol car camera during a  Sunday morning, April 10, melee on the downtown Square.

Special Operations Division officers Charles Tindall and Jamie Tedford joined Police Chief Tony Jones and Deputy Chief Don Province to show the video recording and discuss the events that contributed to altercations that broke out in a crowd of about 100 people leaving the Eureka.

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“What we found out Monday (April 11) and this is from some of the students up at the school … it was just a front as a birthday party,” Jones told the mayor and aldermen, explaining that the former movie theater building had been rented for the event.

“The SIPP Mob was trying to raise money for their group,” Jones continued. “What happened was that different ones from different gangs went in there, paid their way, and when they got in there they couldn’t get their money back and in the end that’s where a lot of these fights started breaking out between these different groups or gangs that were fighting out there in the street,” the police chief said.

Jones said that one of the three arrested was a 13-year-old juvenile.

“He was down there jacking his jaws, running his mouth; he was going to shoot up the police station,” the police chief continued. “Of course we get him down here (to the police station) and he’s crying and squalling and carrying on. My thing is why is a kid like that even allowed to be at a place like that by himself to start with that late at night. It just doesn’t make sense,” Jones said.

“We don’t have a curfew for certain age children at night?” Mayor Jerry Autrey asked.

“No sir,” Jones replied.

“I think we ought to look into that,” Alderman Stan Harrison said.

“I wish there was some way” Jones said, “where we could snatch up mamas and daddies when they’re letting kids do this and put them in jail; that’s who needs to be in jail because they (aren’t) taking care of the kids they’re letting society take care of them which is us.”

The police chief continued: “And then somebody gets hurt and I had an officer hurt his back Saturday night and I did talk to (assistant City Attorney) Bob Morris and he said that the owner of the property and the ones who leased the property for such events like that, they can be held liable.”

“Is there some way, that person that leases or rents that building, is there a way we can have it where he must notify us and tell us what the event is …?” Mayor Autrey asked assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell.

City Code Administrator Pam Comer said that requiring a conditional use permit for Eureka events had been discussed.

“At least we need to know beforehand what’s coming down,” Autrey added.

“You can perhaps do it on the basis of when some downtown building is going to have an event that is going to draw a crowd, for purposes of being able to have traffic control, … I’ll just have to look into that, “ Mitchell said.

“That would be something,” the police chief said. “I had four people working that night. You’ve got 100 people out there and a bunch of them fighting; four officers can’t control something like that. You take a good chance of somebody getting hurt,” Jones said.

“We don’t have enough policemen — and I want to thank the sheriff’s department, the sheriff’s department came out and they had about five deputies came out to help us — otherwise you can have a volatile situation, quick,” the police chief continued.

“Has anybody talked to the owner of the building since this happened?”  Mitchell asked, referring to Eureka building owner Freddie Nosef Jr.

None had.

“It’s been several times when what they do is they’ll just pop up at 10 o’clock at night and you’ll start seeing cars pile up there and we don’t know anything about it where if we actually knew that they were going to have a concert or a party then we could actually plan and bring in more …,” Tedford said.

“The Patton Lane Community Center had that same problem,” Alderman Ted Stewart said, “and what I suggested to them and what they did is, they stopped renting to kids. If an adult wasn’t having a function, they wouldn’t allow it,” Stewart continued.

During further discussion among the mayor, aldermen and police, Jones said that there was no indication that alcohol was used or served in the building during the party, but that liquor bottles and beer cans were found strewn around the outside premises afterwards.

Deputy Chief Province said that a nuisance law on the books “could be utilized, probably. That’s a civil procedure though, not something that we couldn’t do ourselves.”

“Didn’t we at one time require him (building owner Nosef) to have security over there, … I mean enough to matter?” Harrison asked.

“Yea, I think we mentioned that,” Stewart said. The mayor and several other aldermen agreed.

“We need to do something about this, because it will happen again, if we don’t,” Mayor Autrey said.

“If we could hold the owner accountable, that would change the way it works,” Harrison said.