Nightclub Shooting Leads To Change

Tuesday, February 13th 2007, 10:53 am
By: News On 6

A downtown shooting has parents and police concerned about underage kids partying in clubs with drinking adults. There were at least two 15-year-old boys inside the Ministry of Sound nightclub when shots were fired over the weekend. That night 18-year-old Jeremy Lin was shot in the head while his 15-year-old brother watched. Since our exclusive interview with Jeremy's family aired on Monday there’s been a lot of new developments. News on 6 anchor Tami Marler reports on some planned changes at the club.

"I'm within 10 feet of the door when the gunshot goes off."

Tulsa Police Corporal Dan Miller was the only officer at the Ministry when the capacity crowd reacted to a single gunshot.

"Pandemonium. I just started calling everybody because the club was close to occupancy level, which is 1,500 people, so I knew there was gonna be trouble," said Miller.

Corporal Miller says officers were inside the crowded club about an hour earlier.

"The officers went in to go around and make sure there's no trouble,” Miller said. “Didn't see anything obvious, so after everything looked good they went ahead and left."

Miller says there are so many clubs downtown, there's no way they can hit every one, every night.

"14 and 15-year-olds, shouldn't be in here. I mean that's the parents' responsibility to make sure their kids aren't out. Especially after curfew," he said.

"It kills me inside because is my son gonna make it? Is my son gonna make graduation? Only God knows," said the shooting victim’s mother Kelly Lin.

Lin says her 18 and 15-year-old sons told her they were going to a friend's house to practice break-dancing. Someone suggested they use the Ministry's dance floor, and while she visited her father in the hospital they were off to the club. Now 18-year-old Jeremy is in the hospital with bullet fragments in his head.

"You know both cheekbones, his nose bone, it's all shattered," Lin said.

15-year-old Jesse says it was their first time to go to the Ministry, and he wouldn't go back.

"They're getting drunk and acting crazy. You don't need to go there," he said.

Clubs like the Ministry are classified as entertainment venues. They're licensed to sell 3.2 beer, and anyone of any age is allowed in until midnight.
But after all the controversy of this week, Steve Kitchell says the owners, a corporation with Joe and Lillian Kitchell listed as principals, feel it's in everyone's best interest to make the Ministry an over-18 establishment.

Kitchell says it shouldn't be a business's responsibility to parent kids. He says Ministry staffers follow the law, and make midnight announcements notifying underage patrons of curfew. He also acknowledges with so many bodies inside at the time of the announcement there's no way to make sure every underage patron went home. He says now he'll make sure none of them get in.