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Sky Lounge owner hopes name-change, no DJ will deter violence

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The owner of Sky Lounge on Capitol Street hopes that changing the bar's name and music will deter violence.

The state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration temporarily yanked the bar's liquor license after three people were shot there early Sept. 22. However, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he'd like to see the bar closed permanently.

Morgan Pauley, the Sky Lounge owner, said the bar would reopen under the simple name, "Martini Bar." The bar's liquor license is restored today<co Wed.>, but Pauley said she's talking to her lawyers and ABCA officers before re-opening. She expects to be ready either this weekend or Monday.

Pauley said she's fired her previous manager and is trying to hire a replacement. She is also moving away from hosting DJs on the weekends to attract young entrepreneurs and business people. The loud DJ music, she said, "can sometimes get people hyped up and sometimes it can turn to violence."

Mayor Jones said he's not impressed with changes Pauley has suggested and is seeking the bar's closure. The bar is on a special permit with Charleston's Board of Zoning Appeals and the permit's revocation could be raised when the board meets Oct. 11. Jones said he was put off by Morgan's response following the shooting and how she referred to the temporary loss of the bar's liquor license as a "cooling-off period."

"I spent a third of my life in that business," Jones said, referencing his past experience owning bars. "I don't see anything there that would leave me to believe anything good would come out of their reopening."

Part of the problem is the bar doesn't serve food, he said.

"Anybody in the business just to sell liquor and nothing else in this day and age is probably going to have problems, especially if they're open until 3 a.m.," he said.

Police responded to a shooting there at about 2:25 a.m. on Sept. 22. Police said an argument inside the bar escalated as staff escorted three men outside. A man on the street then opened fire, striking the men as they exited, police said.

The man, later identified as Braheem Jamal Griffin, 19, of Charleston, was charged with three counts of malicious wounding and five counts of wanton endangerment. He is currently being held in South Central Regional Jail in lieu of a $200,000 bail.

The three victims were taken to CAMC General Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and have since been released. Police detectives have not said what prompted the shooting and Pauley said Griffin never entered her bar that night.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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