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updated: 10/19/2016 8:20 PM

Fights outside downtown Elgin bar draw scrutiny

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  • A man was arrested early Sunday in Elgin after someone reported shots being fired outside Smooth Fox, a venue that opened downtown in June. There was also a report for a fight in August and a very large fight in September.

      A man was arrested early Sunday in Elgin after someone reported shots being fired outside Smooth Fox, a venue that opened downtown in June. There was also a report for a fight in August and a very large fight in September.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • A man was arrested early Sunday in Elgin after someone reported shots being fired outside Smooth Fox, a venue that opened downtown in June. There was also a report for a fight in August and a very large fight in September.

      A man was arrested early Sunday in Elgin after someone reported shots being fired outside Smooth Fox, a venue that opened downtown in June. There was also a report for a fight in August and a very large fight in September.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

In the wake of a man's arrest on gun charges over the weekend, Elgin police will review reports involving a downtown bar and decide whether to take action.

It's unclear if 18-year-old Raymond A. Griffin of Elgin was a patron of the bar. He was arrested after a 911 call at 2:48 a.m. Sunday to report several people fighting and shooting at each other outside Smooth Fox, 51 S. Grove Ave., according to a police report.

Officers didn't hear gunshots or recover any shell casings, but they found a "chaotic" scene with hundreds of people running away from the bar's entrance, the report states.

Griffin was arrested shortly after, when a fight broke out in an outdoor parking lot down the street. Griffin was in a van with three other people and was holding a handgun, which he dropped when an officer drew his weapon, the report states. Griffin ran away and was arrested after a foot chase.

"We are going to be conferring with the legal department and also reviewing this most recent incident and at that point decide what next steps will be taken," Cmdr. Ana Lalley said. "Whether that's sitting down ... and reviewing security measures or bringing it to the liquor commission, we will determine that."

Bar owner Justin Hodge said he, too, wants to talk to police about the incident. Griffin was not a patron and no one fired any shots, Hodge said. "I didn't see (Griffin). I was walking around the whole time," he said.

The club is for those 21 and older after 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, when bouncers also search patrons for weapons, Hodge said. Six to 12 employees work security, depending on the event and crowd size, he said.

Hodge has cooperated with police in the past, and there have been no discussions with him yet regarding this weekend's incident, Cmdr. Colin Fleury said.

Records show three other police reports involving the bar, which opened in early June.

Hodge said that's not much in his line of business. "There is no club in Elgin that has not had a fight. Name me one and I will give them congratulations."

Hodge said he keeps a close eye on the bar and that his bouncers act swiftly to prevent issues from escalating.

"It's not like it's an every-week occurrence, like it used to happen in the Foxhole back in the day or over at the Gasthaus," Hodge said, naming two former Elgin bars. "It's nothing like that. But now with social media, small things get taken out of proportion and exaggerated."

Previous cases include the arrest of a man Aug. 20 after police were called to break up a fight involving a large group outside the bar. Officers were told two women had an argument inside the bar, were asked to leave and began fighting outside, leading to a larger melee, a report states.

Police responded Sept. 5 to Sherman Hospital, where a 16-year-old victim was being treated for a head injury. The victim told police he attended a private party at Smooth Fox and had an argument with an 18-year-old woman who hit him in the head with a stun gun outside the bar, the report states.

On Sept. 9, a dishwasher at the bar, Anthony B. Jackson, was arrested on a warrant issued a few days before, when he failed to appear for court on criminal trespass charges. Jackson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight days in jail, Kane County records show.

"It was nothing major," Hodge said.

Hodge also said many of the 911 calls are generated by one resident who lives nearby and objects to noise from the bar. Lalley said she couldn't confirm that.

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