City shuts down business

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said last week that he invoked his mayoral powers and ordered city codes inspectors to revoke the license of a downtown business where a man was recently shot several times.

Staff said the city has closed the doors of Special Occasions, which operated at 129 South Main Street, in the former Western Auto building. According to city records, the business obtained a license to host banquets, wedding receptions and retirement parties.

The license does not allow the sale, service or presence of alcohol on the premises, but police reports indicate that alcoholic beverages were served or consumed on Nov. 25, when the shooting occurred.

“We shut it down, revoked their license,” Staff said. “When it started, (the owners) told me it was going to be a such-and-so, and it wasn’t. I didn’t realize (until the shooting) that anything was going on there. But it’s done, it’s gone.”

When city police officers responded around 2:15 a.m. to a report that a weapon had been discharged at the site, they found Anthony Jerome Riley, 42, of a Sunset Drive address, lying in the establishment’s rear parking lot. He was alive, but had been shot several times with an unspecified firearm.

Riley was taken by ambulance to Atmore Community Hospital, where he received preliminary treatment before being transferred to an undisclosed medical facility in Mobile.

Police Chief Chuck Brooks said the victim remained in “poor” shape as city detectives continued to investigate the shooting.

“The investigation is ongoing,” Brooks said. “We’re making progress and we hope to eventually make an arrest.”

Staff reported that if the business owners wanted to reopen, they would have to follow a couple of key criteria in order to retain their license. He said the rules were put in place to prevent just the type of incident that occurred on Nov. 25.

“If they want to be open, they’ve got to have the owner of business to be there all the time it’s open,” he said. “They’ve also got to have a licensed security firm, with at least two security guards. We’ve put those same criteria on other businesses, and they didn’t want the trouble. Used to, they’d fight; nowadays, they won’t do that, they’ve got guns.”

Brooks said his department would not have any direct role in the ongoing situation unless the business owners try to operate without the city license.

“Our responsibility from this point on is to make sure nothing happens there again,” he explained. “If they should happen to continue to operate without a business license, at that point the person who has or had the license will be arrested.”