UPDATE: Bar to reopen with more security following shooting

Published: Dec. 9, 2017 at 7:20 AM EST
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UPDATE 1/31/18 @ 6:38 p.m.

After nearly two months since a Portsmouth bar has been closed, the manager says they plan to reopen. It will be their first time letting customers in since a deadly shooting in December.

"Honestly, it disgusts me that something like this could happen," said manager Lee Scott. "It disgusts me that people would walk into our door and do that."

Portsmouth Police say officers who were working a security detail noticed people running out of the Columbia Music Hall just before 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. A customer told them someone had walked in and fired shots.

Inside, police say they found one man on the floor saying he had been shot and another man around back.

Those men were identified as Seth Burdette, 27, and Zachary Mahone, 32, both of Portsmouth.

Burdette died from his injuries.

"It upsets me terribly that it happened," Scott said. "I detest the crime happening in our business. It's made me much more aware of what potentially could have went wrong in a place like this."

Scott says he had three security guards working the night of the shooting, but he decided to shut the business down for a while to make their security even stronger.

"We have three more people going to work here as security," Scott said. "All of them have former police training."

Weapons are not allowed inside the bar and there are signs out front saying so. The security guards will have hand-held metal detectors and both the front and rear entrances.

Scott also plans to enforce a strict dress code.

"Must wear shirt with collars, no T-shirts, dress properly, no baggy jeans," Scott said. "If your pants are hanging down around your knees don't bother coming to the front door. We don't mean to stereotype people, but it does seem that those are the type of people that seem to be the problem in places like this. If you want to call it stereotyping, that's what it is, but they won't be permitted back inside of these premises."

Police say they responded to more than 70 calls at Columbia last year.

Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware says those calls ranged from violent incidents to nuisance complaints. However, he says officers are not singling out Columbia and there are other bars facing similar issues.

"We're going to continue to have a presence, particularly in the area where we have multiple bars just to provide for a feeling of safety for the people that want to come out and enjoy themselves," Ware said.

Ware says there are bars, other businesses and homes in that area. He wants customers and neighbors to feel secure.

A mix of residential and nightlife can make for problems, Ware says, and Columbia is not the only bar getting calls.

"You have the typical calls that come with alcohol consumption, loud music, bottles leaving the establishments and making their way into the parking lots," said Ware.

He says there are three bars in that area with a "high call volume."

"Each of those establishments has a responsibility to do their part," Ware said. "If they do their part and we do our part, hopefully those numbers come down."

The chief says police can't turn a blind eye to violations and crime, but he wants to see these businesses succeed.

Scott says that is his goal as well. He is transforming the building into a venue for music -- his intentions from the very beginning, he said.

"We never built this place to open it as a bar," Scott said. He says it was only opened as a bar to show the bank that the business could be successful in order to get financing to turn the back room into a music arena. They now have the financing. "We built it for the people of the area. That's always been our intentions."

Behind a door in the bar area is a wide-open room with a stage, another bar and future dance floor. Scott would like to bring in national musical acts for the young people in the Portsmouth area to enjoy.

"I want people to feel safe when they walk in our doors," Scott said. "If you're afraid of a security guard, if you're afraid of a police officer or something, please don't come to our club. We want people to come here and have a good time."

He hopes to reopen their doors next Thursday, weather permitting.

It will reopen as an arena/club Scott says and it will "never be ran as a bar again."

UPDATE 12/11/17 @ 6:30 p.m.

It's been a troubling couple days for Lee Scott. His bar was the scene of a double shooting during the weekend that killed a man and injured another.

"It should have never happened," Scott said.

Portsmouth Police say officers who were working a security detail noticed people running out of Columbia Theatre Bar on Gallia Street just before 2:30 a.m. Saturday. A patron told them someone had walked in and fired shots.

Inside police say they found one man on the floor saying had been shot and another man around back.

Those men have been identified as Seth Burdette, 27, and Zachary Mahone, 32, both of Portsmouth.

Burdette died from his injuries.

Area businesses and other neighbors say the spot is the source for many headaches and problems. Since Jan. 1, police have responded to more than 70 calls to that address for various issues, but owners say those are calls made from the same people over and over and whatever happens outside the bar's front door should not be on them.

"We do keep a wand," Scott said. "We check people that we think may be of questionable character but when a deranged man comes charging through your door at 2:17 in the morning and fires off a shot, there's absolutely nothing you can do about it."

Scott said he understands the frustration those businesses feel, but says anything that happens outside should be on the hands of the police department.

"I really do understand their concerns," Scott said. "Once again, we can't do anything to people once they go out on the street. The problem is not inside our business, we've maintained it very well in here. But once all the people leave all the bars they'll conglomerate out there at 2:30 in the morning. We're inundated with a plethora of patrolmen, so it's like it's their job to do something about those people in the streets."

Scott says he feels like his bar is being targeted. The city denies those claims and says it's about safety but are assessing options about the bar, who Scott claims was never intended to be a bar to begin with.

"We didn't build this place to be a bar, we built it to be a music arena. We've done everything we could to project our customers in here, but once again we don't know who these guys are ... I think we will shut it down for awhile until we can complete our arena and open it back up as it was originally intended."

Scott says he would love to see the establishment become more of a family friendly environment.

There's no word on if any suspects have been arrested in the shooting.

UPDATE 12/11/17 @ 12:40 p.m.

Names have been released in a deadly bar shooting that happened early Saturday morning in Portsmouth.

Seth U. Burdette, 27, of Portsmouth was pronounced dead at St. Mary's Medical Center in Huntington, Portsmouth Police say.

Another man, 32-year-old Zachary Mahone of Portsmouth, was taken by ambulance to Southern Ohio Medical Center and later transferred to Grant Medical Center in Columbus.

The shooting happened just before 2:30 a.m. Saturday at the Columbia Theatre Bar in the 800 block of Gallia Street.

Surveillance video from a nearby business shows patrons running from the bar just after the shots were fired.

No one has been arrested at this time.

Anyone with information is asked to call Portsmouth Police at 740-354-1600 or 740-353-4101.

UPDATE 12/9/17 @ 9:30 p.m.

A man is dead and another is injured after a shooting at Columbia Theatre Bar in Portsmouth, according to police.

The shooting happened just before 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Police say officers in the area were called by witnesses who told them someone had been shot inside.

Surveillance video from a nearby business shows patrons running from the bar just after the shots were fired. Business owners say the bar has been a trouble spot in town, and police agree. Portsmouth officers even work security detail at the bar on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

“This is an ongoing problem,” said neighbor Mark Chepp. “Fights, mayhem out in the street. The police are there constantly in the night time.”

Chepp says most mornings after the bar has closed he and his wife have to clean up the entry way around their business because of patrons leaving a mess and trash outside.

“People once they leave the bar typically go into our front entry way and relieve themselves or throw up and we're constantly cleaning that up.”

Many business owners tell WSAZ they worry the constant issues and complaints are going to hurt their businesses and stump the growth of downtown Portsmouth.

“Portsmouth is a city that's really trying to re-invent itself...” said Chepp. “People like us and next door with luxury lofts and all the businesses downtown are trying to make it a welcoming safe place to be and this kind of carnage doesn't help that at all.”

While the future of the bar remains uncertain, Chepp says he and his wife do plan on continuing to voice their concerns before someone else seriously hurt.

No names have been released.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and for the latest on this story.

ORGINAL STORY 12/9/17 @ 7:20 a.m.

One person was killed and another injured after a shooting in Portsmouth early Saturday morning.

The shooting happened at the Columbia Bar around 2:30 a.m.

Portsmouth Police tell WSAZ that one person was shot and taken to the hospital but later died from their injuries.

Another person suffered non-life threatening injuries and was taken to the hospital.

Their names have not been released.

No arrests have been made.

WSAZ has a crew at the scene.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and for the latest information.