INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The owner of the 9ine Ultra Lounge has spoken out after more than a month of silence following a fatal shooting outside the club.
Chaos broke out and a man started shooting into a crowd of people in the parking lot the night of the AFC Championship. One person, 25-year-old Raeven Parks, was killed. An armed security guard shot and killed the suspect.
Since then, people have complained about the club's security and have called for the club to shut down.
"I just feel that the narrative has been controlled for long enough," said club owner Alphonso Hodge. "I didn’t want to speak before because I really just wanted to take care of the matters first. I just felt that the time was right. I’ve done everything within my power to try to right my wrongs and I just feel like it’s time for it to be said."
Since the shooting on Jan. 19, Hodge said he's met with Kansas City Regulated Industries, KCPD, the fire department, and the health department on what he can do to make things better.
He said he's implemented an enhanced security system with more cameras on the inside and outside of the club. The cameras shoot high-quality video and have no blind spots, Hodge said.
He has metal detector wands, so every patron will be scanned as they come in the club.
Hodge demonstrated his new ID scanning system that scans everyone's ID as they enter. If someone is causing problems, Hodge can go into the system and mark "banned" by that person's name so security will know in case the person tries to come back. Should another crime happen at the club, the scanning system can help police figure out when a suspect entered and left the club.
"I wanted to do something, I was trying to do my part," Hodge said. "There’s nightclub shootings, nightclub deaths all through Kansas City. What do they do? Open right back up and continue their business. Two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, a month, whatever, you don’t hear it. It goes under the rug. Me, I’m trying to do something different. I’m actually trying to cooperate with law-enforcement and everyone else to do the measures so we wouldn’t have this problem."
The club opened in September. It failed its probationary period, so now Hodge will have to get signatures from surrounding businesses to stay open. Jim Ready with the regulated industries department will have the final say.
Hodge hired a security group commissioned through KCPD. He'll have security inside the club and out. Two armed guards will be at the doors, and eight armed guards will be patrolling the lot. Before, there were three.
"It was just an unfortunate night that we weren’t prepared for. Kansas City was overwhelmed with the victory," Hodge said.
He pointed to the craziness of that night, saying they weren't even supposed to be open. But the Chiefs won, and everyone wanted to celebrate. Being a former Chiefs player, Hodge said he had to open the club.
He normally had KCPD patrol the lot on regular business days, but that night KCPD was swamped and had their off-duty officers elsewhere.
Hodge showed us a text message from a police captain telling Hodge he'd have to find another plan.
KCPD confirmed the text, adding that if they can't get a minimum of three officers at one location, they can't patrol there at all.
KCPD said they had officers drive by the club that night, but they left on another call just minutes before the shooting broke out. Hodge said he doesn't understand why they left.
"I'm not trying to piss anyone off, but I'm just trying to state facts. Everybody's been able to say whatever they want about me," Hodge said.
The club reopens on Saturday. Hodge said he doesn't know what crowd to expect. However, he's donating all proceeds to local anti-violence organizations.
Hodge said he's reached out to the victims and their families and wants to help them any way he can.
Now, he said he wants to move forward and run a club where people can have a good time.
"The average person would have folded with all the pressure I’ve been under for the last two months, but I know that I put my heart into this and did it for the right reasons," Hodge said.