UPDATED: City wants to shut down club at center of Christmas shooting
(WRCB) - The City of Chattanooga plans to seek a court order Wednesday morning barring a downtown ministry-nightclub from holding services or celebrations New Year's Eve after nine people were shot off-premises early Christmas morning.
"We're here to say enough is enough," Mayor Ron Littlefield says.
"It was but for the grace of God that we didn't have nine people murdered," Police Chief Bobby Dodd says. "Including a Chattanooga police officer."
Pastor Tim Reid calls the attacks outside the Mosaic ministry and Club Fathom an "ambush of our youth."
"What we did not know was that violent gang members were waiting outside our church," Pastor Reid says.
"No one inside Club Fathom or Mosaic Church Christmas Eve had weapons on them. We proactively protect against these realities by always having off-duty police officers and professional security at all our outreach events."
"The shootings were not two rival gangs--rather a violent Chattanooga gang ambushed our church's non-violent GANG (Gathering a New Generation)."
Reid says the ministry uses a number of acronyms to relate better to at-risk teenagers at their level.
"B.Y.O.B. means bring-your-own-Bible," he says. "We don't serve alcohol, or allow alcohol to be served at Mosaic-Fathom events. We do rent our facilities for private use, and the caterers may serve alcohol."
"That's an insult to good and valid religious outreach," Mayor Littlefield says. "This is a business that has masqueraded as a church."
During a news conference Tuesday, Chief Dodd detailed a litany of incidents that police have connected to Club Fathom since it opened in 2006. CPD logged more than 340 calls for service from 2006 to 2009
"2007: two assaults, one statutory rape. An 18 year old male on a 14 female, intoxicated, from alcohol available inside the club," Chief Dodd read.
"Certainly, I consider them a nuisance," Chattanooga City Council chairperson Pam Ladd says. "I consider what happened the other evening a nuisance."
Whatever occurs in court, Ladd says she'll ask the city attorney for advice on policing all clubs---such that trouble brewing inside: doesn't spill into violence outside.
"There needs to be responsibility beyond the doors and the parking lot," she says.
Pastor Reid was unaware of Mayor Littlefield's planned course of action when Eyewitness News contacted him following the Mayor's news conference Tuesday.
"I don't know what we'll do," he says. "Several churches have contacted me and offered to let me use their facilities New Year's Eve. That might be easier than fighting."
Pastor Reid has declined to identify which pastors or congregations have issued those offers.