It’s way past time to shut down The Vibe

Betty BeanInside 640

In November 2016, the proprietor of The Dilemma, a late-night club at 2630 N. Broadway, attended a meeting of the Oakwood Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association to defend his good name. His landlord, Drumheller Real Estate Management, did not attend.

Neighbors were complaining about gunshots and noise and belligerent drunks and illegal parking. Kevin Cherry said he was being falsely blamed for the actions of others. He hinted that the complaints were racially motivated and said he was going to shut The Dilemma down and reopen as a more sedate establishment, a place where neighbors would feel welcome to come by and catch a ballgame – a sports bar.

He changed its name to The Vibe.

Turns out that’s about all he changed. Here’s a police report from March 31, 2019:

KPD UPDATE: Broadway Homicide Investigation

On 03/31/19 at approximately 4 am, numerous shots fired calls came in to 911 at The Vibe located at 2630 North Broadway. Soon after the 911 calls, a vehicle drove to the KPD East Precinct with a female victim suffering from a single gunshot wound.

According to witnesses in the car with the victim, they had stopped at Krystal’s located at 2815 N. Broadway and while sitting at the drive-thru window, a stray bullet that was fired from the direction of The Vibe came through the passenger side door and struck the victim. The victim, Jesse Roberts, 25 years old of Knoxville, was transported to University of Tennessee Medical Center where she died from her injuries.

Investigators have determined the shooting took place in The Vibe parking lot and also on the street in front of The Vibe. They have recovered over 50 spent casings and are continuing to process evidence from the scene. Witnesses reported seeing cars speeding away from the club and numerous people shooting in the parking lot and the area around The Vibe.

Two additional victims arrived at UT Medical Center claiming they were also shot at The Vibe. Investigators are working to determine if their injuries are related to this incident.

We ask that anyone with information about this investigation to please call the Crime Hotline at 215-7212.

Oakwood Lincoln Park resident Jessie Roberts was shot to death – by someone from the premises of The Vibe – while just trying to grab a late-night snack.

What the hell does it take to shut this place down? Back in the day, teams of codes inspectors, fire marshals and undercover cops would descend on public nuisances and shut them down in the interest of the public welfare.

Meanwhile, Roberts leaves a 7-year-old son. Neighbors have started a fund for him.

Back during the 2016 OLPNA meeting, Sean Wynne, who lives just across First Creek from the club, talked about what he’d seen there. Here’s a quote from a story written at the time:

“One guy got shot in the stomach and ran to the Krystal (where employees called 911),” Wynne said. “A week later, there were five shots. They’re doing the same stuff as Déjà Vu,” he said, mentioning the Cherry-owned club in South Knoxville that was shut down by court order three years ago by Criminal Court Judge Steve Sword after Attorney General Charme Allen presented evidence that the club was a nuisance due to gun violence and drug and gang activity. Cherry said he was able to keep the peace at Déjà Vu until the sheriff ordered off-duty officers to stop working there as security.

A couple of days after St. Mary’s shut down in December 2018, authorities discovered the corpse of a young man on the doorstep of the shuttered emergency room. Investigators learned that 21-year-old Greg Ballenger was shot at The Vibe that evening.

Meanwhile, Cherry, on his public Facebook page, is complaining that he cannot control what goes on outside his club.

But there are several ways to protect the public from nuisances. Too bad it’s too late for Jessie Roberts and Greg Ballenger.

Note: A joint community meeting sponsored by Oakwood Lincoln Park, Old North Knoxville and Edgewood Park is planned for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, at the Christenberry Recreation Center, 931 Oglewood Ave.

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