Two Knoxville nightclubs closed under state public nuisance law

La Rumba Restaurant and Bar
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Two Knoxville nightclubs have been shut down as public nuisances.

Law enforcement agencies boarded up La Rumba Restaurant and Bar and closed down Millennium Night Club and Bar following an investigation into violent behavior in and around the clubs.

Since 2008, Knoxville Police have been called out to the clubs a combined 580 times.

People who live near the clubs say they've been too scared to leave the house at night.

District Attorney General Randy Nichols filed petitions to close the nightclubs under state nuisance law.

According to police investigations, illegal drug use, fighting, drunkenness, disruption and violent behavior and alcohol violations were "rampant" at both locations.

Since April 2008, the District Attorney's office says La Rumba has been the site of 471 calls to 911, and Millennium has had 107 calls. The calls stemmed from crimes ranging from shootings and stabbings to drug and alcohol violations.

In 2011, police arrested the owner of La Rumba, Emidio Ramirez, after he got aggressive with an officer responding to a noise complaint.

The District Attorney's office met with the owners of both clubs in June 2013.

"We talked about ways they could have avoided this situation today. But the calls for service continued, and the crimes of violence continued," Assistant District Attorney Sean McDermott says.

Philip Lomonaco, attorney for La Rumba, says the owners do provide security. He calls the closure a conspiracy.

"If people come over here and commit crimes, it's not [La Rumba's] fault. It's the fault of the police for not enforcing the laws," he says.

But the DA's office sees it differently.

"Business owners are failing to take steps to rectify the problem, and in some cases are part of the problem," McDermott says.

Leroy Kautz, owner of Wah Lum Kung-Fu, says he's relieved to finally see the club closed.

"I have kids that come to the school. And we have to police our parking lot just to make sure they are no needles, things like that," he says.

McDermott says they've received countless complaints from people who live in the area, which ultimately prompted them to shut the businesses down.

"The reason that we closed down these locations is to protect the community. And when citizens around these locations thank us for that, it makes it all worth while," he says.

The properties will remain closed until further order.

A hearing is set for next week. A judge will decide if the businesses will be allowed to re-open.

La Rumba is on 4900 Chambliss Ave and Millennium is on 315 South Mohican Street.

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