East St. Louis bar fined, license suspended after man shot to death

News-DemocratSeptember 4, 2013 

— Mayor Alvin Parks on Wednesday fined a bar owner $500 and suspended her liquor license for two weeks but did not fault her for the death of a man shot on a parking lot near the business.

Denese Drummond, owner of Denese's Place at 218 Collinsville Ave., and her attorney William Daniel, appeared before the liquor board of commissioners in the Mayor's Conference Room in the East St. Louis City Hall on Wednesday so Drummond could give the facts of what happened the night of the shooting as she knew them. The board listened to Drummond and took less than an hour to make a decision on the club's fate.

Kenneth S. Richards, 20, of Cahokia, was shot to death at 11:44 p.m. Sunday on the parking lot behind the bar.

Harry Hollingsworth, one of the liquor commissioners, said he was sorry to have to be a part of closing Drummond's business because he wants her to stay open "but, we have to make sure that the message gets out that all the rules have to be followed."

Jimmy Adams, a liquor commissioner, said for him it's simple: Everybody, regardless of who they are, has to follow the rules.

"That's why everyone has been given a copy of the rules," he said. "This set of rules pertains to every establishment."

Denese's Place will remain closed until Sept. 15 and Drummond must pay the fine on or before Sept. 13. Before the business reopens, Drummond also must submit to the board a list of at least four licensed, bonded, and certified security officers. Drummond did have a security guard on duty at the time of the shooting but he was not licensed, bonded and certified.

The parking lot where Richards was killed is owned by the city. Drummond previously leased the lot but currently does not.

She said would like the city to help her come up with ways to make the parking lot safer for the patrons who regularly use the parking lot to frequent her business.

Parks said Drummond's license was suspended and she was fined because she did not have a licensed, bonded, certified security guard on the premises at the time of the shooting which is one of the requirements mandated by Parks, the city's liquor commissioner. City rules require there be at least one licensed, bonded, certified security guard on the premises for every 50 people, no matter what time of day. Rules also prohibits minors from being on the premises where alcohol is being served, but, the police chief said Richards, who, at 20, was considered a minor, did not go inside the business. Parks said that since this was the first offense for the business in a 12-month period, the board didn't feel it necessary to shut Denese's Place down.

Drummond, who appeared nervous, told the board that she had nothing to do with what happened outside of her business and she did not feel she was responsible. She said she did everything she was required to do -- she said she had lights and she had a security guard.

"I feel for the victim's family. I am a mother. I feel her pain, but there was nothing I could have done to prevent it or I would have," Drummond said. "There was no arguing or fighting or anything like that going on."

Drummond said video was captured on surveillance cameras outside of the business that clearly showed Richards was targeted.

"We agree that in this situation, based on the facts presented by the police department and in talking to Denese that there was very little that could have been done regarding keeping this young man from being shot," Parks said. "He was a target of some vendetta, beef or hit. He was going to be shot wherever he appeared. Administratively, we are trying to make sure that our businesses are safe and run as well as can be."

Daniel said the suspect parked in the far northeast corner and "for five, six and seven minutes" and then wandered around before he got out of the Chevrolet Suburban and shot Richards. He called the shooting "an assassination." He said he could not release the surveillance video captured by his client's security system because "we're cooperating with police," in the still-unsolved murder investigation.

Capt. Jim Morrisey of the Illinois State Police said the video has been "helpful in the investigation. We are pursuing leads that are productive at this time. We are still identifying witnesses to interview."

Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.

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