Witnesses: Men refused drinks at Goose Creek club claim racism, open fire on customers in parking lot
Goose Creek — An accusation of racism caused tension to boil over in an explosion of bullets at Nowhere Bar and Grill early Sunday, leaving three people nursing gunshot wounds at the members-only club.
Blood-stained pavement, a shattered window pane and buckshot embedded in the business’ wooden exterior were evidence of the violent ordeal.
Daniel Chenoweth, 50, has owned the roadside bar at 7128 Henry E. Brown Blvd. for 15 years. If his customers argue, it’s usually over politics or which beer tastes best, he said. He said he’s never seen the level of violence that hit his establishment on Sunday.
The bar caters to a host of regulars, mostly from surrounding neighborhoods, and can see up to 300 patrons on a given night, Chenoweth said. But the tight-knit group didn’t know two men who walked into the bar and asked for a drink about 1:50 a.m. Sunday.
Bound by state law setting a 2 a.m. cut-off for liquor sales, 28-year-old Vickie Taylor said she and another bartender had already announced the last call for the night when the men placed their order. That’s why they were denied service, she said.
The men grew angry at the rejection and yelled that they weren’t being served because they were black, Taylor said.
Chenoweth said the accusations of racism at the bar were unfounded.
“This is probably one of the most diverse bars in this area,” Chenoweth said. “We see all races in here.”
One bartender told the men she had no reason to deny them because of their race, a Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office incident report states. After all, she reported, her two children are both biracial.
An argument ensued, drawing several patrons into the dispute. One customer threw a punch at the men but missed, an incident report states.
The men eventually walked out of the bar, only to linger at the door and taunt the customers through the windows, Taylor said.
Hoping to prevent a fight from spilling into the parking lot, the bartenders told the patrons to wait inside until the men cleared the area.
“That’s one thing you know at a bar, if you have an altercation you never let them out into the parking lot at the same time. Then it’s bound to turn out bad,” Taylor said.
The plan wasn’t successful, however, as the men reappeared in their vehicle and pulled up behind a group of customers, blocking them in as they attempted to leave.
Suddenly, a few loud pops rang. Taylor said she ducked beside a juke box before peering out of the window.
One of the men was pointing a shotgun and three bloodied people made a beeline for the bar to escape further injury, Taylor said.
“There was so much blood, I didn’t know what to do,” Taylor said.
“But she ended up making a tourniquet, which probably saved one guy’s arm,” Chenoweth added.
Chenoweth said he hopes surveillance cameras at the bar will help deputies speedily track down the suspects.
The men had not yet been identified Monday afternoon.
The incident was one of two shootings to hit Goose Creek Sunday morning.
Shots were fired between nearby Club Pluto and an Exxon Gas Station at 1270 Red Bank Road about 1 a.m., an incident report states.
A man was making gang signs shortly before a fight broke out at the nightclub, deputies said.
Those involved in the fight were quickly thrown out of the venue, the report states.
Witnesses reported a black Impala follow them as they left the club’s parking lot. Then, shots were fired, wounding two people.
The wounded people drove to nearby Trident Medical Hospital for treatment of what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries.
A shooter has not been identified in that case.
Investigators initially questioned whether the shooting was related to the violence at Nowhere Bar and Grill, but they now don’t suspect a connection, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dan Moon said. Witnesses described different vehicles and shooters, and the weapons involved were different as well, he said.
Several shootings have been reported at Club Pluto, and the Sheriff’s Office has identified it as a trouble spot that deputies would like to clean up.
A 39-year-old North Charleston man who showed up at Summerville Medical Center on May 14 with gunshot wounds to his foot and his abdomen told deputies that he was shot while leaving Club Pluto.
On Jan. 22, three people who were hit with bullets and shrapnel from a car at Red Bank and Howe Hall roads told deputies they were leaving Club Pluto when the shots were fired.
In early December 2012, a man who exchanged gunfire with another driver on Red Bank Road and then wrecked also told deputies he was leaving the nightclub.
Glenn Smith contributed to this report. Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.