By Katrina Weston
According to Syracuse police, at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 24, an 18-year-old female was shot in the lower back at Chayses lounge, located at 205 N. West St.
The report states that a large disturbance broke out outside the establishment, and, while the victim was in the middle of the crowd, she was shot by an unknown suspect, then transported to the hospital in a private vehicle.
Chayses Lounge owner Edward Withers said early police and media reports were deceptive, and shed a bad light on his business establishment.
According to Withers, the victim had not been in his bar that night.
“Although from time to time we hold events that cater to the 18-and-older crowd, we are very strict in our requirement for proper identification, along with a college ID in order to attend,” Withers stated. “In general, we only allow adults age 21 and older to enter our establishment.”
Withers said he is deeply saddened that someone was hurt on that particular night, but says his establishment should not be held responsible.
“There was no inside ruckus, or confusion to escalate outside,” he noted. “During the night, security is located outside in the front of the establishment and at the back gate of the establishment, so there is no confusion for those who try to go out and return. We provide a smoke area for those who desire to go outside to smoke, which is an eight to ten foot private, fenced-in area that has security at the exit for those that choose to leave and for others to not be able to sneak in. There is no re-entry after 11p.m. for safety reasons.”
Withers also noted that Syracuse Police did not come to Chayses Lounge at the actual time of the shooting, but said he cooperated fully when they did come to speak to him.
“They stopped by the lounge much later to look for evidence,” he said. “I gave them full access to the premises.”
Withers, who has been operating the club for the past six years without incident, said on the night in question, they did have an event, but it was for a 21 (year old) and older crowd.
“Anyone under the age limit was denied access, and reminded of any upcoming events that they may be interested in attending, and encouraged to return for one of those events,” he stated.
However, Withers said it is not uncommon for those denied access to hang around outside the establishment, or bring the party to the nearest parking lot, which is known as “parking lot pimping.”
“These folks will have their music blasting from car stereos with the car doors open, or windows rolled down so the music is at capacity,” Withers stated. “Once that begins, people may begin to mingle, dance, or join the festivities. What initially was an entourage of three denied entry, is now an entourage of 10, then 15, and, next thing you know, that vacant building or parking lot is now looking similar to an outside party.
“There is little a business owner can do to stop some of this behavior, “Withers said. “Bar owners are being held responsible for every bad thing that happens near their establishment. This is unfair. There are situations that are simply out of the business owner’s hands. It’s not our responsibility to secure another person’s parking lot. The best that we can do is to warn them it’s private property (if it is private property), and that they could be towed, or considered to be trespassing. There is nothing these business owners can do legally, about where or how individuals choose to spend their time, unless it’s on their property.”
The victim, whose name was not released to the media, has since been released from the hospital, and is expected to fully recover.