By Jeff Lehr
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Police made 17 arrests during a melee early Sunday at an unlicensed club in downtown Joplin.
Police Cpl. Chuck Niess said several fights broke out between 2 and 3 a.m. among a crowd of about 200 young adults and teenagers at The Surge at 1202 S. Wall Ave. He said fights were taking place both inside and outside the building where the club has been operating on Saturday nights in recent months.
No injuries requiring medical treatment were reported, Niess said. Officers arrested club patrons on a range of misdemeanor offenses, including obstruction, fighting in public, possession of alcohol as a minor, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, he said.
In addition, Jeremy Latham, 26, of Joplin, was arrested on a charge of operating a business without a license. Latham is not the owner of the building but is suspected of being in charge of operations there over the weekend, according to Niess. Latham was arrested when officers developed information that a cover charge was being collected from patrons, he said.
Niess said The Surge has become a growing problem for law enforcement on weekends.
“We’ve had numerous disturbances and noise violations there,” he said.
Many of the problems have been “alcohol-fueled,” Niess said. Because The Surge holds no liquor license and patrons provide their own alcohol, officers need exigent circumstances, or the owner’s consent, to enter the building. Niess said he did not have any information on who owns the building.
Police have been assigning a couple of officers to the area of the club in recent weeks.
Large fights broke out inside the building at 2:26 a.m. and again at 2:55 a.m., Niess said. He said there also were smaller fights and disturbances spilling outside. Officers used exigent circumstances as their legal justification for entering the building and closing it down after the second large fight started. A toilet reportedly was broken and overflowing inside the building by that point.
QUELLING THE NEAR-RIOT early Sunday required most of the officers on duty that shift, according to police Cpl. Chuck Niess.