Sheriff invited to meet with club over enforcement

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005


Managing Editor

LAPLACE – While St. John Parish Sheriff’s detectives search for the prime suspect in the March 6 shooting outside Club Fusion on Airline Highway in LaPlace, club operators and Sheriff Wayne L. Jones are arguing over what the club owners call the singling-out of a black-owned business for persecution.

“He don’t mind talking about us, but he has never talked with us,” insisted Walter Gerard, whose family owns and operates the club

on Airline Highway near

(See Owners, Page 2A)

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Main Street.

At the same time, Jones pledged to maintain surveillance on the club and send officers to do a “walk-through” in search of underage customers.

“We ID everybody,” asserted club management.

Walter Gerard called for a sit-down meeting with Jones to take steps to prevent violence in the club’s vicinity.

Jones reported that the 911 center was notified of a disturbance that night outside the club at 12:22 a.m., according to records released Thursday.

The shooting victim, Ronald Ellis, 32, of LaPlace, had already been transported by private vehicle to River Parishes Hospital, by the time the first officer arrived at 12:24 a.m., and by 12:25 a.m., Jones said, nine units were at the scene.

Witnesses at the scene identified Jaevon Johnson, 20, of LaPlace, as the prime suspect in the shooting, and a warrant was issued against Johnson, charging him with attempted second-degree murder.

The club gained notoriety through the Byron Davis drive-by homicide back in January in Reserve. Six suspects have since been rounded up, the last in mid-February.

Jones reviewed records from four other clubs in the Reserve/LaPlace area, two white-owned and two black-owned.

At Williams Club on Cardinal Street in LaPlace, during the past three years, only one disturbance complaint was logged.

At the Bumble Bee Lounge on East 20th Street in Reserve, 16 calls were logged, including three to disperse crowds, one fight with a weapon, four fistfights and eight disturbance calls, were logged during a three-year period.

At Bully’s Halfway House on Main Street in LaPlace, one dispersing call and one disturbance call were logged in three years.

At Daddy’s Hideout on West Sixth Street in Reserve, one dispersing call in three years was logged.

However, Jones said in four months of operation since Dec. 16, there were 10 complaints at Club Fusion – six disturbance calls, three dispersing calls and one shooting.

Germond Gerard countered this claim, and said there were only two instances where people were ejected from the club, despite the fact that thousands of customers have been there.

“We’ve got a good business here. We didn’t bring the violence here,” Germond said

“Do we have a problem at Club Fusion? There’s no doubt we do,” Jones said. “If they run a legitimate operation, they’ll have no problem from me. If they continue in the same mode, they will have a problem with me.”

Club management, however, claim they are unfairly persecuted.