LPD: Homes turning into bar scenes at night

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 4, 2016

Police target illegal parties in city

By Melanie Ruberti


LaGRANGE — After three people were shot at a home in the 100 block of Edgewood Avenue in the early morning hours of Jan. 18, investigators with the LaGrange Police Department believe people at the residence allegedly violated other laws.

Sgt. Mark Cavender, head of the LPD Special Investigation Unit, said the home was being operated as a business, charging money for people to enter. That violates regulations under the city’s new bar ordinance and state laws, Cavender said.

The person responsible for the party was not the homeowner and has not been identified, according to LPD Lt. Dale Strickland. The shooting occurred after a fight broke out at the residence. All victims survived, Strickland said.

While detectives are still investigating the shooting, Cavender said the department is considering charging the person who threw the party with violating the ordinance.

The Edgewood Avenue residence is not the only residentially zoned facility that has been recently breaking the rules, Cavendar added.

“We’ll see advertisements for sweet 16 birthday parties, but then it will say, ‘Leave the drama at home … security will be provided.’ If it’s a true sweet 16 party, then why is security even needed?” Cavender said. “We’ve seen parties advertised as someone’s being released from prison and they’re throwing them a welcome home party. We’ve seen parties with gang undertones. Sometimes a confidential informant will tell us about a party somewhere that we wouldn’t have heard about, or there will be a flyer stuck up in a store window somewhere.”

“They’re serving alcohol without a license … their bartenders and waitresses have not gone through official training, they have no security in place, they have people under 21 coming in to their ‘establishment,’ which in the state of Georgia, starting July 1, a person under the age of 21 is not allowed inside a bar without a parent or a legal guardian, plus all the zoning issues,” Cavender stated.

Cavender said the SIU team and LPD plan to put a stop to these unregulated parties before they get out of hand.

People who are caught could face fines by the city and state.

“There’s also a civil culpability on the person who hosted this party and the person who allowed it to happen,” he said. “That’s why if you’re the owner and you’ve done nothing ahead of time to see who is going to be at this event or what security might be needed, then you’re the initial catalyst who set it off and responsible for it.”

According to Cavender, if the state can prove the person has a pattern of illegally hosting parties and selling alcohol out of a person’s house, prosecutors can make a case against that person and try to seize the residence.

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.