Based on the number of club patrons and weapons circulating among the crowd, officers were outnumbered and at a high risk of danger during the recent Main Street shooting.
The shooting occurred outside the Red Bottom Club and the Queens Venue in the final block of Main Street around 1:30 a.m. last Saturday in what investigators are referring to as a scene from the “O.K. Corral.”
Westavius Harris, 25, was pronounced dead about an hour later in the emergency room of Baptist Medical Yazoo. Yazoo County Coroner Ricky Shivers said he was killed by a single gunshot wound.
A second victim who was also shot was treated at a Jackson hospital. And a female was also injured after being struck by a vehicle.
The Red Bottom Club is considered a nightclub while the Queens Venue is listed as an event center. Both are located next door to each other, with a possible adjoining door connecting the two properties. The two establishments are controlled by one owner.
The Red Bottom Club can hold a capacity of 100 people. The Queens Venue is the same, with a capacity of 100 people. Combined, the establishments can only hold 200 people safely.
But Chief Ron Sampson said there were close to 1,000 people present the night that escalated into violence and bloodshed. He also added there were only four officers on the scene.
“Our officers were sent to close everything down when the fights broke out,” Sampson said. “There was a huge mass of people there. It was chaos.”
According to the city ordinance, nightclubs are to close at 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. That ordinance states that “no business shall be conducted and no patrons or anyone shall remain on the premises immediately thereafter.”
Police officers were sent to the Red Bottom Club and the Queens Venue to shut them down.
The city ordinance also requires that security officers be on scene at local nightclubs. There was one security guard and one deputy present, but the clubs were still in violation of the city ordinance.
“When you have 50 people inside, there is to be one guard,” Sampson said. “For the next 50, there is to be two guards. Based on the full capacity of 200 people, there should have been four guards present. But, even so, there were about 1,000 people there.”
Sampson said three .40 caliber pistols were recovered and sent for testing. He said officers also recovered multiple rounds of .40 caliber and .223 caliber shell casings.
“We also identified three different locations where the shots were fired,” Sampson said. “We also have one person admitting that he fired a shot into the air to clear the crowd which led to the additional gunfire.”
Mayor Diane Delaware addressed the shooting during the recent Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting after Alderman Sir Johnathan Rucker said crime has grown within the city.
“If there is a hoard of drunk people on the streets of Yazoo City, and we don’t have the resources to handle those people, we truly could have expected what occurred,” Delaware said. “I hate to say that. But it was a horrible situation. We were not ready for all of those people to be released upon our streets in an inebriated state at an hour where they would take their shirts and other things off in the middle of the cold night. The situation that happened last week, let’s not dance around it. We grieve but we have to figure out the cause and address it.”