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Metro nightclub co-owner worries about safety after Orlando shooting

Crime analyst also tours Metro to point out club's safety features

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando has a Jacksonville club co-owner concerned about safety in the event of an emergency. 

The co-owner of Metro, a LGBT nightclub in Riverside, joined News4JAX on "The Morning Show" to discuss the shooting at Pulse that left 50 people dead and over 50 injured. 

Jerry Rosenburg said he first got a text about the incident from a Metro manager at 3:28 a.m. Sunday. Roseburg said he could not believe the news. He said has been to Pulse several times.

"I felt very safe there because they had uniformed off-duty police officers when you walked in. On the outside, like we have had in the past, they have security guards like we have in the inside. You felt safe," Rosenburg said.

He said he loves Pulse, but had concerns about the amount of exits it had. 

"My biggest fear about that club is that it has three rooms that run together and a patio, but they really just had the one entry door in and that's such a scary, fearful thing," Rosenburg said.

Rosenburg noted Metro has five exits, while Pulse only has one. He also said his club is a bit bigger than Pulse, having a capacity of 790 versus Pulse's approximately 400. 

"We have five exits out of our disco. We have three to the outside, one to the big hallway leading to many other exits and one into our game room. We probably have about 14 exits out in all. So there would be no way for a single gunman to get that many people," Rosenburg said. 

As far as security goes, Rosenburg said he feels comfortable and safe with the security he has in place. He said he hires off-duty officers during large events. 

"They have off-duty armed police officers out front. That's our law in Jacksonville. When we have off-duty officers hired, unless they come inside to use the restroom or we call them in for a problem, they must stay outside because they are armed and we have alcohol," Rosenberg said.

Rosenburg said he hopes the mass shooting doesn't keep patrons from attending his well-known club, but hopes they are more aware of their surroundings. 

"You can't be afraid. You still have to live your life. You still have to go about every day," Rosenburg said.

Since the tragedy in Orlando, the community has come together, many of them knowing some of the victims who were killed.

Metro has become a staple for the LGBT community and he said he'll continue to keep it open seven days a week. The owners said they will meet with staff to revisit their security protocol.  

Crime analyst tours Metro to point out club's safety features

Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst, toured Metro Monday to point out its safety features.

"When you first approach a club, the one thing you want to look out for is a 'no parking' sign at the entrance," Smith said.

Smith said that creates a clear path if there's an emergency.

"This here, is a separate room, a dining area and also a bar. There are two exits. There's an exit there, I went back there. It's clear and the door is open," Smith said.

Exits are very important for a quick escape in case of an emergency, Smith said, and they've got to be visible and lit, with two exits for businesses with a capacity of 600 or less. Metro has a capacity twice the size of Pulse. The blueprint for Pulse shows two exits, which is up to code, but Smith said the layout is still concerning.

"The two exits are very close to each other and not located in different places around the building," Smith said.

Metro, on the other hand, has about a dozen ways to get out and some doors even activate an alarm, warning clubgoers and notifying police.

"If there's an incident and you need people out, it may be difficult for security to yell, 'Everyone leave' and people will start asking questions," Smith said.

Metro also has trained and certified security.

"There should be adequate security here to handle the crowd depending on capacity. One place, security should be walking by and checking out the restrooms because that's where you have a lot of incidents like fights," Smith said. 

News4Jax asked Smith what someone should do if they find themselves in a dangerous situation at a club, like a shooting.

"Instincts are going to kick in. You're either going to run, hide or fight. The most important thing is to run," Smith said. 

But if that's not an option, Smith recommends finding a hiding spot, like behind a bar or under a booth, until the threat is over.