Jerris McPhail said the fight at his restaurant, The Wing Spot, in the early morning hours of Sunday, is not typical, but because of it he’s ramping up security and putting other measures in place to ensure something like that never happens again.
“I’m so very sorry it happened,” McPhail said of an argument that erupted at a birthday party being held at the restaurant, located at 637 Northwest Blvd., one that left two local women injured.
“In the 2 1/2 years I’ve been running this place, we’ve never had anything like this happen. It’s not the kind of establishment I run, and it’s not the sort of thing I want to be associated with, that’s why I’m taking added precautions to ensure we stop issues before they start.”
This one, though, McPhail said, happened quickly and was the kind of incident that could have happened anywhere.
Clinton Police report that the incident took place just before The Wing Spot was to close Sunday when individual, involved in some type of argument, threw a beer bottle that struck 20-year-old LaKeysha Phipps, 21, of 426 Hunt Lane. Glass from that same bottle struck a second woman, Marreka Bell, 22, 113 Shamrock Drive, cutting her.
Police chief Jay Tilley said the bottle hit Phipps in the face, and shards of glass struck Bell.
The incident continued, reports show, in the parking lot of the business, with a large crowd gathering and police trying to control the situation.
“There was a crowd situation that had to be brought under control,” Tilley said.
Outside, police, attempting to disband the crowd and see that the injured were cared for, also had to contend with what reports called a loud bystander who would not calm down when officers asked him to.
Rayford Moore, 26, 407 Hamilton Drive, Clinton, was eventually arrested and charged with trespassing and simple possession of marijuana. His bond was set at $2,500 and his court date is scheduled for Oct. 8.
Moore, reports noted, was part of the gathered crowd outside the restaurant and refused to leave when asked. He is alleged to have used extreme profanity when talking to officers and, when an attempt was made to handcuff him, he tried to jerk away. Officers noticed, reports show, four empty beer bottles in the back pockets of his pants and they seized 20 grams of marijuana.
Police were able to disband the crowd and clear out the parking lot of the business shortly after being called to the scene.
Tilley said detectives are currently investigating the incident and expect charges to be filed very soon.
McPhail, whose business caters to birthday parties, wedding receptions and other special events, said Saturday night there had been a birthday party at the restaurant and someone had gotten out of hand.
“You know some people just don’t think, and this is what happens. I’m really looking forward to the responsible party being brought to justice. This kind of thing should not be tolerated.”
For his part, McPhail is beefing up already heavy security at his establishment and prohibiting glass bottles in certain areas of the facility.
“I’m taking the necessary measures. I already make a point to have (off-duty) police on the premises for events, but now I’m going to have even more, inside and outside. We don’t want things like this to happen and I try to have people in place to ensure that they don’t. In this case, it happened in the blink of an eye.”
In addition, McPhail said he was going to prohibit glass bottles in certain areas, instead using Styrofoam cups for beverages.
“I don’t want to put ourselves in these kind of situations. I want to have an atmosphere where people can come out and eat, dance, have a good time, but not get out of hand. When we have events, I want them to be good events. We don’t want to ever be a nuisance. I want to do things in a good light.
“I want my business to be considered one that is safe, a place where you can feel good about going. We pride ourselves in that, and we are going to do everything we can to keep it that way — a safe environment where people want to come. Anything else is not me, not part of my character.”