The owner of the event center where an altercation led to murder said he believes his business is being treated unfairly by local authorities.
Ira Johnson, owner of the Teflon Event Center, said he feels his business is being targeted by the police department, especially concerning a tragedy that took place there last Sunday.
“I hate what the families are going through, but both sides of the story need to come out so that people can make a decision for themselves,” Johnson told The Yazoo Herald Wednesday afternoon.
Briddell Barber was charged with murder after allegedly shooting Justin Porter at Club Teflon around 3 a.m. Sunday.
Yazoo County Coroner Ricky Shivers pronounced Porter dead at the scene as a result of a gun shot wound to his chest.
Police Chief Jeff Curtis said it appears that the confrontation between the two men began in the event center, ultimately leading outside.
Johnson said the bloodshed occurred outside of his business on another piece of property.
“The altercation began as we were closing,” Johnson said. “We had turned the lights on, and people were beginning to exit the building. A argument between the two men began in the back at the pool table. As my security went back there, both individuals left through the back door.”
Johnson said the murder did not even happen on his property.
“Behind the building is not even our property,” Johnson said. “When the murder occurred, they were no longer on Teflon property. The shots and the demise were on the other property.”
Johnson said he admits that his security did not pursue the two men after they left Teflon Event Center.
“They felt the people remaining inside were not threatened,” Johnson said. “In hindsight, I wish we had pursued them. Maybe what happened could have been prevented. My heart goes out to those families.”
Johnson said the event center was rented for a private Zodiac party the night of the murder. He also said security was on the premises.
Yazoo City has an ordinance requiring security at both nightclubs and event centers if more than 50 people are present.
“We do have an ordinance that states that if any establishment sells, provides or has alcohol on the premises, they still must have a bonded security staff on the grounds if there are 50 people or more,” Curtis said. “(The security) are also subject to background checks and must register with the police department.”
Curtis said the Teflon Event Center has not registered its security with the police department.
Johnson said they are registered.
“With me not being a nightclub, I don’t know when my place will be rented out,” Johnson said. “If someone rents it out Saturday morning, the police chief is not in town. I can’t check with him if he is not there.”
Johnson said police reports describing the Teflon Event Center as a “nuisance” are “total fabrications.”
Johnson said violent altercations rarely happen at his place.
“Not one time have there been any shootings in the past at Teflon,” he said.
Johnson said he and his brother were arrested once at the business, but they were exonerated.
“The only arrest ever was when my brother and I were arrested for operating as a nightclub after hours,” Johnson said. “They refused to honor our event center permit. The municipal court judge later overruled that situation.”
Johnson said he thinks his business is being singled out.
“After receiving several phone calls from past customers, I, along with them, am curious to know why the chief so adamant about closing my business,” he added. “My heart goes out to the victims and their families. With the incident that occurred at the club Main Event a few weeks ago, why wasn't Chief Curtis so vocal as it pertained to that incident?”
Johnson said he hopes city leaders will allow him to share his side of story in any action they may pursue in event center ordinances.
Johnson said he purchased the Teflon Even Center about two years ago.
“It may have been a nightclub in the past, but it has never been under my ownership,” Johnson said. “I received my event center permit about two years ago as well.”