The Mobile City Council could move as early as next week to revoke the business license for what was formerly known as Shotgun Willie’s, after the Mobile Police Department (MPD) made a series of undercover drug and illegal alcohol buys that resulted in a total of six arrests late last year.
At a virtual public hearing, MPD attorney Wanda Rahman asked councilors to consider the revocation of the business license of Christopher Gulley, owner of Shotgun Party Hall at 3211 Springhill Avenue, due to the alleged illegal activity.
There have been several complaints related to illegal activity at the location, as well as code enforcement violations, Rahman said. As a result of the license being changed from a club to a party hall, the location on Springhill Avenue was not allowed to collect a cover or serve alcohol, but both things were happening, she said.
During an investigation from December 2019 to February 2020, MPD Lt. Charles DeGere told councilors MPD made undercover buys of methamphetamine, Xanax and “spice,” or synthetic cannabis. DeGere said both patrons and employees sold the drugs at that time and alcohol was sold by employees as well.
In March, Gulley was notified of what officers found and COVID-19 shut the business down temporarily. However, DeGere said officers began receiving similar complaints about the party hall and in October, MPD opened a second investigation.
On Nov. 5, during what was called a “Throwback Thursday” event, investigators were charged a $10 cover, but were denied a drink at the bar. However, they were offered an alcoholic punch, DeGere said.
On Nov. 13, investigators were again charged $10 to get into the party hall and were served a $10 mixed vodka drink, DeGere said. On Nov. 19, investigators met with Reginald Lewis, who called himself the manager. At the time, investigators were able to buy a “small amount of marijuana” from an employee at the club, DeGere said. Investigators also purchased ecstasy from a DJ there, he said.
The next week, on Nov. 20, DeGere said undercover investigators again were charged in an illegal cover and purchased marijuana at the party hall.
On Dec. 3, DeGere said investigators paid $5 to get in and were sold ecstasy from Lewis and marijuana from a bouncer named William Murphy.
DeGere confirmed six people were arrested on various charges at the conclusion of the investigation, including Murphy, Lewis and Lewis’s sister, Angela Lewis.
In addition to the arrests, a search of the premises found an ice chest with 55 grams of marijuana and paraphernalia, DeGere said. There was another 75 grams of marijuana found behind the bar.
“Mr. Gulley cannot say he owns the facility and just rents it out,” Rahman told councilors. “As the owner, he has a duty to make sure the business is operated according to the law.”
Rahman added Gulley was told about the illegal activity on the premises before the party hall was shut down due to COVID-19 and the activity continued when it opened back up.
Addressing the council, Gulley, who gave a Daphne address, said he agreed with shutting the business down.
“It was supposed to be a party hall and BYOB,” he said. “I agree with the whole thing being shut down.”
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