Baltimore County officials are looking into how other local governments regulate private late-night businesses after police arrested a Prince George's County man accused of shooting three people outside a Catonsville swingers club this weekend.
County Executive Kevin Kamenetz asked Police Chief Jim Johnson to research rules elsewhere following the Sunday incident at Tabu Social Club, located in a shopping center on North Rolling Road, county spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said Tuesday.
Authorities have charged Steven Renardo Rush Sr., 36, in the shooting of a woman and two men outside the club shortly after 2 a.m. Detectives have also spoken to the woman who left the club with Rush.
Police said Rush was leaving the club and assaulted a woman he was with in the parking lot when he got into a "verbal altercation" with the three victims, who were sitting in a parked vehicle. Rush then fired several shots into the car.
In a statement, club owner Vicki Gonzalez called the shooting "an isolated incident."
"Tabu Social Club has operated, at this location, for 10 years without incident," she said.
Gonzalez said the altercation occurred in the parking lot and that a weapon was retrieved from a vehicle there, and "at no time was there a weapon inside of Tabu." Owners called 911 after the shooting rendered aid to the victims, she said, adding that they have cooperated with police and have provided security video to investigators.
Two of the shooting victims were taken to a local hospital and later released, police said. The third victim remained hospitalized and is listed in serious condition but was expected to survive.
The club allows patrons to bring their own alcohol, county officials said. The liquor board has no authority to regulate the business, Kobler said. It is considered a "bottle club" in state law.
Tabu has no history of run-ins with police, said police department spokeswoman Elise Armacost.
The establishment is located in a shopping center near a 7-Eleven, restaurant, grocery store and auto shop, but its entrance is not visible from the road.
Multiple signs posted on the cinder block building, which is painted yellow and has a blue awning at its front door, warn of surveillance cameras. Another sign on the back wall is marked reserved for "Reigning Ms. TSC [Tabu Social Club] Only."
Some neighboring business owners said they have not encountered problems because the club is only open late at night on the weekends.
"Daytime, it's closed," said Samina Afzali, an owner of the Royal Supermarket. "They don't have any traffic going in and out."
Abdul Salam Hamid, who manages the Shaheen Restaurant, said he has seen a large number of cars fill up the parking lot on weekends. But those crowds don't start until after 10 p.m., he said.
"By that time, we are gone," said Hamid, whose restaurant serves halal Pakistani and Indian cuisine.
He said the idea of a swingers club is "crazy" to him, but added that the owners "seem to be very nice."
The club advertises itself as "the perfect place to meet other like-minded adults who are interested in the swinging lifestyle." Only women and couples are available to buy memberships but single men must have a current member sponsor them.
Ganiyu A. Raji, a longtime member of the Westview Park Improvement & Civic Association, and president for the past two, said he had not heard any complaints about the club for a while.
Several years ago, he said, the community group tried unsuccessfully to have the club closed down and to have the property owner to not renew the club's lease.
Then-president Steve Whisler said the group unsuccessfully lobbied the County Council to adopt legislation limiting adult entertainment venues to "heavy manufacturing" areas of the county, away from residential communities and schools.
"A lot of times it doesn't affect the community in a direct way," he said.
But Whisler said, with the exception of some "scantily" dressed patrons coming and going in the shopping center parking, there haven't been many concerns since.
Whisler now lives in Carroll County, but expressed concern for his ex-wife and children still living in Catonsville.
"It is very, very concerning to me to have a shooting so close to my home" and family, he said.