COLUMBIA — Peppers Nightclub has closed for at least year following a gunfight that fatally wounded one man, owner Karon Rowe said Tuesday morning.
The Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s office had sought an injunction against the embattled nightclub, and a hearing was scheduled for Friday. However, Rowe’s attorney reached an agreement Tuesday with prosecutors to close the club immediately and cancel Friday’s hearing.
“The Sheriff’s Department was able to produce such a convincing series of evidence that yesterday, they realized that the time was now to try to figure out what to do with the property,” Boone County Counselor C.J. Dykhouse said.
The closure comes after a 21-year-old man, Tevin Nelson, died Monday night after he was shot in the head early Sunday in the Peppers parking lot. A 22-year-old woman was also shot, in the forearm, and she has since been released from the hospital.
The Boone County Sheriff’s Department is investigating Nelson’s death as a homicide, but there were no arrests as of Tuesday, Detective Tom O’Sullivan said. In an interview Monday, the detective said he would be happy to see the club close.
“If that place is shut down and cannot operate in the manner in which it has, that’s a good thing,” he said Tuesday in reaction to the closure. “We’re relieved.”
According to the agreement, the Peppers property can’t be used as a bar, nightclub or something similar for at least one year. In addition, Rowe must surrender her state-issued liquor license and won’t be able to apply for another one for at least a year.
The petition for injunction filed in July stated that the property had been used for the sale of alcohol after the 1:30 a.m. cutoff. Calling the nightclub a public nuisance, the petition also made note of frequent crime and evidence of prostitution and illegal use of food stamps.
Rowe is also facing criminal charges for the illegal activity at Peppers. Although Tuesday’s agreement cancels the Friday hearing regarding the injunction, the criminal case against her is still pending. She has previously pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution, for which she received two years probation.
Now, she’s figuring out what to do next. Maybe, she said, she’ll lease the property to someone who could use it for a restaurant.
But the injunction is effectively shutting down the property for any use. It also requires Rowe to connect the property to the public sewer system. Doing so, Dykhouse said, might open up the location for other commercial use — hopefully, he said, something more positive than Peppers.
Meanwhile, Rowe said she plans to retire, something she’s been trying to do for a few years. She’s seen fellow business owners around her come and go through the years, and she’s sad to join them.
“I really didn’t want to hurt the community,” Rowe said. “I’m just trying to pay the bills.”