Cameo nightclub had no formal agreement to check patrons for weapons, police chief says

CINCINNATI -- The mayor and police chief said the owner of Cameo Night Club had agreed to check guests for weapons. But police said several firearms were inside the club when a shooting happened early Sunday, killing one and wounding 16.

When a business has a track record that concerns the police department, sometimes it will reach an agreement with police to provide better security, hoping it will reduce the risk of crime.

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A side entrance to the club has a sign identifying it as the express entrance, which some patrons said was a faster way inside, and that some guests who entered there were not wanded with a metal detector or patted down for weapons.

Four off-duty police officers provided security outside the club, but Police Chief Eliot Isaac said he didn't believe they were aware of that portion of the bar.

"They are responsible for outside security," Isaac said.

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There was a verbal understanding with the club that it would check guests for weapons, but there was no written agreement and the club wasn't required to do it, according to Isaac.

"Sometimes they're just verbal conversations between the district leadership and a bar that's had problems in the past," he said.

There was a shooting in the club parking lot in the fall of 2015, according to police. A few months later, there was a shooting inside the club.

The city has no apparent system for tracking these type of security agreements with clubs.

"I think you can never have enough tracking and monitoring," City Manager Harry Black said. "We love data."

At the City Council committee meeting Monday, there was a sense of urgency to solve the shooting, but also a need to not rush to judgment.

"I want to be careful that I don't label the owner of this establishment as irresponsible or someone who doesn't care," Councilmember Wednell Young said. I have a feeling that would not be an accurate assessment."

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Isaac said police were investigating claims by some club patrons that guests paid higher admission fees to use the express entrance where they were not always checked for weapons. This is the first time police have heard about it, and he said he could not confirm if it's true.

For WCPO's complete coverage on the Cameo nightclub shooting, visit wcpo.com/cameo.

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