Police activity at Purple Haze doesn’t compare to neighboring bars, according to MPD


Purple Haze Night Club sits just off Beale Street in Downtown Memphis (photo: Google)

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A nightclub that is now closed after several people were shot inside claims it's not as bad as other clubs in the area.

The shooting happened earlier this month at Purple Haze, a block from Beale Street.

Police say a man had walked into the club and opened fire. Nine people went to the hospital.

Purple Haze management closed immediately to look at safety issues.

WREG pulled its current security plans from the state which include up to seven security guards, 16 surveillance cameras and metal detecting wands.

"They either need to shut down or straighten up," MPD Director Michael Rallings said after the incident.

He said the crime at the club is out of control.

WREG pulled new data from MPD showing every time an officer was called to Purple Haze since January 2015. 168 incidents including fights, armed parties and suspicious activity.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Purple Haze said in part, "police reports and media use purple haze as a landmark in the reporting of events, casting a negative light" and "through our own research of on-file police incident reports, we have learned that there are clubs in the historic district that have had significantly more incidents requiring police involvement than Purple Haze."

WREG did some fact checking.

Police told us how many times they were called to some of the most popular bars and clubs near Purple Haze.

MPD said since January 2015, they responded to Club 152 36 times, Jerry Lee Lewis' 67 times and Silk O' Sullivan's 30 times.

Even if you add all those calls up, it still doesn't compare to the 168 calls during that same time at Purple Haze.

"There may be instances at businesses that have been opened and have problems that are recurring for law enforcement to show up, and then finally there`s enough evidence to go into court," said District Attorney Amy Weirich.

She said if the evidence piles up, "We present our case to a judge, and it's the judge that decides what the next best step should be."

While that hasn't happened at Purple Haze, the state took some action.

The Alcoholic Beverage Commission suspended its liquor license due to "incidents over the last 24 months involving criminal activity."

The owner of Purple Haze is out of the country and unavailable to comment on MPD's crime data.

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