M’ville Council angry about nightclub shootings
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent August 12, 2014 10:52PM
Police are investigating an incident at the Rain Ultra Club in Merrillville in which three people were shot early Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. The club is on East 83rd Avenue, just west of Southlake Mall. | Carole Carlson/Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 14, 2014 6:46AM
MERRILLVILLE — The owner of the building that houses the nightclub where three people were shot early Monday must appear at the Town Council’s workshop session Aug. 20 or Police Chief Joseph Petruch will have it shut down the following day, council members agreed Tuesday.
Petruch would like to take a tougher stand, however.
“I request the Town Council pull his business license from him immediately,” Petruch said during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Councilman Shawn Pettit, D-6th, said it was lucky that no stray bullets from the shootings about 3 a.m. outside the Rain Ultra Club, 1500 E. 83rd Ave., hit someone staying at one of the hotels in the vicinity.
“It’s staggering and ridiculous what’s going on there,” Pettit said.
“Without hotels, this town can’t survive. A lot of people come to hotels in Merrillville because they feel safe here,” Petruch said.
There were no life-threatening injuries in the shooting, which police said occurred as people were leaving the nightclub after a concert.
No motive has been determined, Chief of Detectives Robert Wiley said Tuesday.
“All of our witnesses didn’t see anything, hear anything,” Wiley said.
Pettit called for building owner Ed Malone to appear at the council’s workshop session and noted that nearby business owners and managers had expressed concerns about the nightclub in newspaper articles.
Pettit said Malone received permission in 2008 for live entertainment with a disc jockey at the former Voltage club at that location, but that approval did not extend to Rain Ultra Club and did not include live concerts.
Pettit said Malone would need a special exception for the new club but added, “I won’t support anything this man does.” He said there have been problems at the site — which has housed several different clubs — during the past five years.
Zoning director Dorinda Gregor said after the meeting that she had heard there were more than 900 people attending the concert, which is higher than the allowed occupancy. Council President Carol Miano, D-3rd, said if the club was serving alcoholic beverages at 3 a.m. it would be a violation of its liquor license.
The board of zoning appeals recently gave a special exception to a new restaurant, Gaucho’s Brazilian Steakhouse and Seafood, that wants to open on one side of the building that houses Rain Ultra Club, with plans to have a banquet hall on the other side in the future.
Councilman Richard Hardaway, D-2nd, said that while it sounds like a good restaurant, the council needs to look at the matter before giving its approval.
“We’re talking about dealing with abandoned houses in town. I don’t want trouble with abandoned hotels, too,” Hardaway said.
Besides several hotels and motels, there also are fast-food and other restaurants, retail stores and professional businesses in the area.