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Gunshots bring attention to bar

SEMINOLE An incident in the parking lot is the latest trouble at Page II.

By ANNE LINDBERG
Published July 1, 2007


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The owner of Page II called the Sheriff's Office to report gunshots in the bar's parking lot and found himself in jail, accused of almost running over a deputy.

Arrested and charged with reckless driving was Randolph Wilson Russell, 53, of 8055 12th Ave. S in St. Petersburg. Russell owns the Page II Sports Bar and Night Club, 8680 Park Blvd.

Also arrested was Tondrid M. McCluster, 23, of 11148 110th Way N in Seminole. McCluster was charged with felonious possession of a firearm, a felony, and disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

The situation began about 2 a.m. Thursday when Russell called the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and reported that shots had been fired in the Page II parking lot, sheriff's spokesman Jim Bordner said.

When deputies arrived, they were told that a man driving a green 1994 Chevrolet Monte Carlo had pulled into the parking lot south of the bar. An altercation began when men and women began screaming at each other, Bordner said. The Monte Carlo's driver got out and fired two rounds into the air.

Deputies found the weapon, a .40-caliber handgun, in the woods by the parking lot, Bordner said.

Deputies began clearing the parking lot. One deputy was standing in an access road between Park Boulevard and Park Street when a black Mercedes began heading his way. The deputy said he "heard the motor accelerate, " Bordner said.

"The driver veered towards him. He had to jump out of the way in order to avoid being hit by the passenger side of the vehicle, " Bordner said.

Bordner said that a civilian witness told them, "He was creeping toward the deputies, then just gunned it."

Other deputies shouted for the Mercedes to stop. When it did, Russell got out and allegedly said, "I didn't hit you, did I?"

Bordner said that Russell made no other comments but that he had a handgun with him and other weapons in the car.

Russell could not be reached at Page II and did not return a message left at his home for comment.

The happenings around Page II have long been a thorn in the sides of Seminole city officials because of complaints of disorderly conduct among customers. And, just before the new year, officials fielded complaints about the bar's sign, which invited people to a New Year's party.

City officials were unable to do anything because a key letter was omitted from an offensive word and thus decided the sign was not obscene. But they did take other action when they found code violations while visiting the bar to ask that the sign be removed. Page II fixed the code problems and removed the sign.

But city officials were still concerned enough to present a proposed ordinance to the City Council at a workshop Tuesday that was directed at clubs that have a capacity of 200 or more people. The only bars in Seminole meeting that description are Page II and Boomerz on Seminole Boulevard. Boomerz has also garnered complaints for the poor conduct of its patrons.

The ordinance would require the bars to provide outside security in the form of off-duty deputies or police officers for safety and to help with crowd control. It would also ban those under drinking age from entering the bars. Currently, underage patrons can come into the bars, they just cannot be served drinks.

Council members liked the idea of cracking down on standalone, large-occupancy bars. In fact, they liked it so much, they asked that it be tightened to apply to even more bars, those that have a capacity for 100 or more patrons.

The ordinance is expected to come before the council on July 10 for preliminary approval. The final vote to approve it and a public hearing will likely be Aug. 14.

 

[Last modified June 30, 2007, 23:29:21]


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