Update: Chameleons nightclub's liquor license suspended in wake of shooting


PITTSFIELD - Chameleons nightclub has been stripped of its liquor license for 21 days in the wake of an April 5 shooting in the parking lot.

Expressing extreme dissatisfaction with the management of the club, the Pittsfield Licensing Board voted unanimously on the sanction following a 90-minute hearing on Monday afternoon.

Owner/manager Melissa Drumm-Sweener can return before the board after 21 days to address "whether or not you've got your act together," said acting Chairman Robert Quattrochi. "Because right now, you don't."

The decision followed testimony from three members of the Pittsfield Police Department as well as a conversation with Drumm-Sweener.

According to Pittsfield officer Michael Murphy, someone reported at 2:17 a.m. on April 5 that there appeared to have been a shooting in the parking lot of Chameleons at about 2:05 a.m.

When he arrived, Murphy discovered that two people already been transported to BMC by a third man in a private car. One victim, a 20-year-old, suffered from gunshot wounds to the buttocks and hip, while a 21-year-old victim suffered from a gunshot wound to the right calf. Neither of the wounds were life-threatening.

Police eventually recovered five shell casings from the parking lot, although some witnesses reported that they had heard as many as 15 shots.

Murphy reported that the club's doorman said he was inside the club and thought someone had set off fireworks in the parking lot.

Detective John Grey told the board that the two victims were "reluctant, to say the least," to cooperate with police and in fact neither gave a statement.

Lt. Michael Grady said the incident was still under investigation, and that police were withholding some elements of the case from the board because of that.

Grady said, in examining surveillance videos of the club, the department's Gang Unit identified several local gang members in the club. In addition, said Grady, the club's metal detector was out of order, as was the ID scanner.

Drumm-Sweener told the board that since the incident, the scanner has been fixed and the club had discontinued the 18-to-20-year-old events, as well as upcoming hip-hop concerts, at which other incidents had been reported.

Quattrochi asked if the doorman had informed her of the incident that night.

"He did not," said Drumm-Sweener, who had been bartending that night. "I think he thought it was just fireworks and it didn't occur to him to report anything."

Drumm-Sweener said she had two security men on duty that night, overseeing about 120 patrons.

Grady said that he was most dismayed that a 20-year-old was involved in the incident. Hosting events for 18- to 20-year-olds, he said, "was begging for trouble."

Murphy said the video showed the doorman ducked inside the club as the shots are fired. "Well, that doesn't make a lot of sense," said committee member Thomas Campoli. "Not if he thought he was hearing fireworks."

"We're being flimflammed," said Quattrochi, who moved that the license be turned over to Pittsfield police on Tuesday.

"I agree there should be sanctions," Drumm-Sweener said, "but shutting me down would cause an extreme financial hardship. I have several band events coming up."

"I'm sorry this will cause you hardship," said committee member Richard Stockwell. "But we have to be responsible to the people of the city of Pittsfield and the Pittsfield Police Department ahead of your financial situation."

To reach Derek Gentile: dgentile@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6251. On Twitter: @DerekGentile


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