Murray Hill nightclub closes after killing

1 killed, 4 injured in shooting last month inside Fat Kat Lounge

By Marques White - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The manager of the Fat Kat Lounge on Edgewood Avenue confirms that the nightclub that was the scene of a fatal shooting last month has closed.

One man died and four others injured when shots were fired inside the club about 4 a.m. Feb. 16. Police later identified the man killed as 24-year-old Marris Brown.

Police estimated about 200 people were there at the time.

The club's manager, who would only identify himself as Eddie, said the owner is thinking of replacing the nightclub with something more community-oriented, like a restaurant or oyster bar. He said the owner was closing the club because the community kept asking him to.

"Community wants it closed. We're going to give the community what they want," Eddie said. "That's the best thing to do right now."

At a meeting the week after the shooting to discuss ways to improve safety in the Murray Hill community, Eddie said the club had made changes to improve safety.

"I think everything is being put on us like we're the problem -- it's not the club, it's the streets," Eddie said.

When asked how someone was able to get in the club with a gun, Eddie said he wasn't sure and that people with guns make it into airports and jails.

Community leaders disagreed.

"This is a club that's already had its chances and now there are people dead. That's enough," said Murray Hill Preservation Association Vice President Len Burroughs.

Jacksonville City Councilman Jim Love said he was working on a bill to make permanent changes in the Murray Hill neighborhood within the next two months, as well as making nightclubs safer. Parts of that bill could include metal detectors and getting surveillance video. Love is hoping to have that bill put together within the next two months.

Some residents are glad to hear the club is closing.

"For the violence and everything else, yes, you don't want that stuff around the streets and your family and everything else," resident Spencer Baldwin said.

"If it's attracting a crowd of people that are violent, then maybe that's a good thing," Patti Moss added.

After two people were shot in 2003, the city shut down the club.

"I've been down here with a bucket and a brush, cleaning blood off the sidewalk behind you because of a nightly incident here a few years back," Burroughs said.

And as recent as last Saturday, two men were arrested, one on a violation of probation charge and one on a charge of possession of marijuana.

But when it comes to the future of the area, Love is optimistic.

"They've had problems getting restaurants in there," Love said. "There have been some good tenants that wanted to go in there and that were afraid to because of Fat Kat Lounge. So now that it's gone, maybe it will provide a springboard for other restaurants and businesses to go in there."

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