District Attorney General Charme Allen and a crew of city police and codes officers shut down a notorious late-night club at 2630 N. Broadway Thursday, four days after a young mother sitting in a car at the Krystal drive-through window across the street was killed by a stray bullet fired from the club’s parking lot. Jessie Roberts was shot through a passenger-side window.
Early New Year’s Day, the body of Gregory Ballenger was dumped in front of the old St Mary’s emergency room by someone who didn’t know (or didn’t care) that the hospital had been closed down three days earlier. Information in the document Allen filed with the court says Ballenger was shot inside The Vibe.
City crews boarded up windows and investigators scanned the ground for bullet casings (they’ve found more than 70 this week) as Allen taped a temporary restraining order on the front door of The Vibe. She said owner Kevin Cherry was cooperating and has been served a summons to appear before Criminal Court Judge Bobby McGhee on Thursday, April 11, to show cause why the order should not become permanent.
Criminal charges are a possibility, she said.
Attached to the TRO is a petition for abatement of nuisance documenting 52 calls for service from citizens plus 45 incidents initiated by the Knoxville Police Department since Oct. 1, 2015, when the club – then called Club Dilemma – opened. The complaints ranged from loud music and loitering to gang activity, assaults and shootings. A fair number of the calls were placed by Cherry himself.
In 2015, Allen shut down another Cherry-owned business – Club DeJa Vu in South Knoxville – for similar complaints.
Neighborhoods surrounding the North Knoxville club have been complaining about the place almost since Cherry opened it in 2015 as the Dilemma Ultra Lounge and Grill. He attended a meeting of the Oakwood Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association in November 2016 and pledged to clean the place up and turn it into a family-friendly sports bar. He shut it down briefly and reopened it as The Vibe.
Nothing else changed, and Allen said the two recent homicides triggered today’s action. The club has been under police surveillance almost since it opened. She said that several of the 911 calls were from Cherry himself, asking for help with unruly patrons.
Later Thursday afternoon, Cherry posted this message on his personal Facebook page:
“Y’all wishes have been granted they shutting the club down and I’m officially free what y’all don’t know is this was the last year for me anyways so needless to say I’m grateful now I can live my life raise my son and spend my money the way I want to somebody else will pick up the torch and I promise nothing will change because the people will not allow it the problem isn’t the club shut them all down and I guarantee the issues will continue #rip The Vibe now I’m free.”