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Should Whiskey Park North Close Down?

Law enforcement is pondering the issue after a double shooting took place at the bar over the weekend.

In the past seven months, three people have been shot outside Carrollwood's Whiskey Park North bar. One of them died.

And now the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says something needs to be done before another person dies.

This week officials confirmed that if crime doesn't stop at Whiskey Park North, they may take steps to close the bar down.

"We're certainly looking at that as a strong possiblity," said Det. Larry McKinnon, sheriff's office spokesman. "We've reached our limit with it. It can't continue on."

Whiskey Park North owners could not be reached for comment.

"We've had bar fights, aggravated assaults, and a pretty wide specturm of everything from top to bottom happen there," McKinnon said about the bar in recent months. "It's definitely reached a level of make or break."

The most recent incident to happen at the bar took place on Sunday around 3 a.m. when a shooting occured in the parking lot as the club let out.

At least one man started shooting at another group of men several feet away, as they made their way to their car, according to a sheriff’s office media release. The group being shot at took cover behind a Mercedes-Benz CLS 550 AMG, which took most of the bullets exchanged.

In the end, Yakim Williams, 27, of Tampa and Sheldon Lillie, 31, of Temple Terrace had been shot. Both men were transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

In July, a man was killed and another person injured after shots were fired in the parking lot of the bar.

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According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Pablo Bonilla, 23, died from injuries sustained when a car pulled up in the parking lot of Whiskey Park North and someone got out and fired multiple shots.

McKinnon said law enforcement met with bar owners after Bonilla's death. More lighting was installed in the parking lot behind the bar and surveillance cameras. But the measures did little to prevent what happened on Sunday.

"We're at the tipping point now," McKinnon said. "We realize something needs to be done and we will not condone any further violence there."

For the bar to be forced to close, the sheriff's office would have to take its complaints to Hillsborough County's Nuisance Abatement Board. Both sides would be able to present their cases. If the board deems necessary, it could remove or suspend Whiskey Park North's occupational license.

Carrollwood residents have grown frustrated with the crime at the bar.

"Time to close this cesspool down," wrote Kristen Epler-Costello on the Carrollwood Patch Facebook Page referring to Whiskey Park North.

As for Sunday's shooting, sheriff's deputies are following leads in the investigation and currently trying to locate people who left the scene of the shootings, said Samara Sodos, sheriff's office spokeswoman.

"It was a very chaotic scene so they're trying to reach people who noticed anything," Sodos said.

If anyone has information in Sunday's shootings at Whiskey Park North they are asked to call the sheriff's office at 813-247-8200 or leave an anonymous tip at 1-800-873-TIPS.

What do you think? Should Whiskey Park North close down? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Jenny Olding January 24, 2013 at 01:42 PM
SHUT IT DOWN PLEASE!!!! We don't need this violence in our back yards. Get those ill mannered people out of our back yards!!!!
Leah Wooten January 24, 2013 at 04:47 PM
I wonder if there is a correlation between the escalating violence at the club and the opening of the apartment communities in Carrollwood to accept Section 8 housing? Would be interested to know if there is some kind of correlation. Bottom line - if the owner cannot clean it up then it needs to be closed - just like they did with the Empire in Ybor.
David Hardingham January 24, 2013 at 10:18 PM
I doubt it as most people on Section 8 simply cannot afford to go clubbing but I agree the club need to be cleaned up but one of the reasons this club is a hot bed is it overcrowded and that due to policy that started in the mid-90s that the only place for a club was ybor which has shut down most clubs around here and made it near impossible to open a new club outside of ybor

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