KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Vibe nightclub was shut down Thursday afternoon as a public nuisance by local authorities. The closure comes after two fatal shootings, numerous reported fights and disturbances and a series of 911 calls connected to the club prompted public concern.
Knox County Criminal Court Judge Bob McGee ordered the closure of the club, a news release from the Knox County District Attorney General's Office said.
Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen addressed the closure from the scene.
She said the next step in the legal process will be April 11, when there will be a hearing in Knox County Criminal Court Division II.
The Vibe is located at 2630 Broadway in North Knoxville.
Last weekend, 25-year-old Jessie Roberts was killed while at a nearby Krystal restaurant drive-thru when multiple shots were fired in front of the club. On New Year's Day, Gregory Ballinger died after being shot at The Vibe.
Roberts' mother Charlene passed by the property Thursday afternoon and stopped when she saw authorities were shutting the Vibe down. Roberts welcomed the move and said she had just come from the funeral home where services are planned for her daughter.
Jessie Roberts' services are set for Friday.
"It's been an incredibly stressful week. I'm incredibly saddened that we now have two people that died to make this happen today," Knoxville City Council member Lauren Rider said.
Several people who said they were neighbors also stopped by and expressed thanks that the club was closing, saying they had heard noise late at night and early in the morning coming from the site.
There have been more than 80 calls for emergency help to the club since mid-2016, an amount that outnumbers other Knoxville bars. There were specifically 10 calls for service in March 2019.
Knoxville police have responded to 44 disturbance calls at The Vibe since mid-2016, including the fatal shootings.
"The Violence Reduction Team has spent, I would dare say, hundreds of hours out here over the last couple of years in an effort to disrupt this very kind of thing," said Capt. Tony Willis from the Knoxville Police Department.
The release from the DA's office also noted known gang members have been known to frequent the club wearing gang colors and flashing gang signs.
"In short, The Vibe operates as a haven for criminal activity, is known in the area as such, and is a continued threat to this community," the release said. "The Vibe is a menace to the community particularly due to the violence that is occurring both inside and outside of the business."
KPD officers, prosecutors and Rider were present as it was being shut down around 12:30 p.m. Plywood had been placed on the outside of the club.
"If it were up to me, I would've boarded it up in 2016, but I wasn't in office then," Rider said.
At a press conference outside the club, Allen said The Vibe's owner, Kevin Cherry, was cooperating with authorities. Allen also said Cherry does not have a liquor license.
"It's just not designed to be an establishment where things didn't happen," Rider said. "It was attracting people from outside our neighborhood to come into our neighborhood; they brought their guns while everybody else around here was asleep."
10News spoke to the owner of the building, Fred Drumheller. He said he believes Cherry "has done the best he could," with the situation and has always paid rent. He said he would continue to rent to Cherry, and that Cherry was running a lawful business.
Cherry previously operated a nightclub in South Knoxville called Club Dejavu.
Authorities shut that club down in 2016 due to gang activity, shootings and extremely violent behavior that occurred at the club, according to a public nuisance notice from the Knox County District Attorney's office.
The club's closure is KPD and DA's 58th nuisance closure.