Laundry list of investigations at Africa Nightclub prompt officials to mull suspending license

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 3:36 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A Fargo bar’s liquor license is in doubt after police detailed its trouble in front of the Liquor Control Board Tuesday afternoon.

With the backing of the police chief, the board made a motion to the City Commission to suspend the liquor license of Africa Restaurant & Nightclub. That now has to be approved by City Commission.

Chief David Zibolski says the amount and the significance of incidents over the last two months at the nightclub have put a large strain on resources and public safety.

“I have significant concerns about public safety if this establishment continues to operate under its current management and scheme,” Zibolski said.

Zibolski says his department has responded to the club 12 times between April and May this year for incidents including over intoxication, a woman discharging a gun in the parking lot, assaults, and the May 23 homicide of the club’s security guard 28-year-old Dominique McNair.

Chief Zibolski says the homicide investigation has shed light on a string of illegal and dangerous practices at the club, including security guards clearing the club’s parking lot after bar close, all while carrying handguns. Police say McNair was doing just that on the night he was killed, despite McNair being a convicted felon, which meant it was illegal for him to posses a firearm.

“A security employee of the nightclub and a patron of the club told law enforcement that nightclub security pats down customers at the door to see if they have any weapons. If a handgun is discovered, the employee will retain the handgun onsite and return it to the patron when they leave the nightclub. That is not lawful,” Zibolski said.

Police say guns are a recurring issue at the nightclub. Security guards told police they were told to carry handguns to ‘clear the parking lot’ at the end of the night, and FPD later discovered handguns were being kept in a refrigerator in the club’s kitchen. The attorney for the nightclub says the policy has changed since the homicide, and no one is allowed to have guns on the premises.

The attorney also says when the information is presented in the way the chief did, it sounds scary; but the attorney says the situations are always dealt with swiftly.

The chief says over-intoxication is a big problem for police at the club; Disorderly conduct is, too. Off-sale was happening at the club, and they don’t have a license to do that. Africa’s owner told police they have drivers license scanners to crack down on underage drinking and patrons, but underage patrons have been found in the club. Africa’s attorney says it’s unclear how minors got into the bar, saying someone may have let the minors in a side door.

Police say the recent homicide at the nightclub is still under investigation. (You can click here to read our reporting on that incident.) They say the victim was hired one week before the homicide; however, there is no paperwork saying he was an employee. The bar’s owner told police he gives his employees the choice if they want to be on the books or not. Liquor Control asked for list of employees and payroll. All security guards are paid in cash, according to owner. Three individuals were identified as ‘head of security’ at the bar. One of them has not been identified or found by police yet.

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