Lawsuits needed in order to shut down nightclubs where deadly shootings happen, city leaders say

Nick Natario Image
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Victims' families pressure to shut down club after deadly shootings
"Why don't they close the club?" one victim's family asks after city leaders said they need a lawsuit to take action. "They're just going to keep letting bodies drop."

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Family members who had loved ones killed during shootings near nightclubs in Houston this week asked city leaders what it takes to get the businesses shut down. Eyewitness News went to city, county, and state leaders to find out what the process is to close a club.

The pleas from the family following a triple homicide outside a nightclub in southwest Houston were clear.

"They're just going to keep letting bodies drop," Ashley Montalbo, whose husband was killed Sunday, said. "For what? A club? That's not right. They need to close it."

On Sunday morning, the Houston Police Department said three men were gunned down in a parking lot outside a nightclub on Beechnut Street. The family identified one victim as Gerardo Filomeno.

READ MORE: 3 men found shot to death at strip center parking lot in SW Houston, police say

On Tuesday, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences released the second victim's name, Jorge Vazquez, but the identity of the third victim has not been disclosed.

So far, there haven't been any arrests. Twenty-four hours later, another deadly shooting occurred outside a different nightclub on South Gessner Road. Both shootings took place hours after the clubs were supposed to stop serving alcohol. ABC13's Safety Tracker shows 10 incidents at the South Gessner address since last year at both the nightclub and parking lot.

READ MORE: 1 person dead after security guard fires shots outside nightclub in Sharpstown area, police say

There were nearly 20 incidents at the Beechnut address at the club and parking lot.

City leaders told Eyewitness News that HPD is gathering crime data and sharing it with the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission to have it take immediate action. The TABC said it's investigating the nightclub near the triple homicide.

It shut down the club for a week. The TABC said it could cancel a liquor license, but that's a last resort.

ABC13 asked Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg what else could be done.

"The businesses can be closed," Ogg said. "The premises can be closed. The building can be shut down. There's a lot of remedies available under law."

Ogg said it requires a lawsuit. Neighbors can come together to get a nuisance business closed. In order to make it happen, though, she says neighbors need to speak up.

"Don't just report violence, but let the police know about noise complaints, drinking and driving, and even someone urinating outside. All of these things should be and can be reported," Ogg said. "That creates a record of a nuisance, and that's the basis for these types of lawsuits, which can be very successful."

This is the action the victim's family would like to see after officers said their loved ones were killed.

"It happens all the time," Montalbo said. "Why don't they close the club?"

They hope these pleas will lead to an arrest and keep the nightclub closed.

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