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The Gauntlet

NOT ALL FUN AND GAMES

Slashing at the Black Lounge: Police seek information regarding violent confrontation between non-student bar patrons

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Brandon Morrison got a little more than he bargained for on a routine Thursday night at the Black Lounge.

On Thu., Feb. 7, Morrison was involved in an altercation with other patrons on the dance floor of the University of Calgary watering hole that left him bleeding from a three-inch long cut to his throat.

"This big guy booted me with his foot," said Morrison of the initial confrontation. "He seemed pretty offended by my ass."

"His friend threw beer in my face, pushed me and then he cut me. My buddy told me I was bleeding. I feel pretty good to be alive."

Morrison, who knew his alleged attacker, indicated he would not visit the Black Lounge or Den again. None of the people involved were university students.

Detective Rene Lafreniere of the Calgary Police Services confirmed that a serious incident had occurred and that CPS was involved. Lafreniere appealed to any witnesses who could contribute further to the investigation to contact CPS.

"It's an active investigation, there is a suspect, and the likelihood is that charges will be laid,"he said. Had the weapon struck its target shy of a half-inch it could very realistically have been a homicide, no doubt there was clear intent."

The alleged weapon was recovered outside of the Den shortly after the assault took place and the sheath belonging to the knife was confiscated from inside the bar by SU staff.

"The damage [to the victim] was consistent with the knife found at the scene," confirmed Lafreniere.

Despite previous concerns over escalating violence on campus attributed to the larger size of the new Den, administrators stress there is no cause for panic.

"What happened last Thursday was an unfortunate but isolated incident,"emphasized Students' Union Vice-President Events Chris Kerr. "It was serious but in terms of running a bar it's part of the business."

"We realize that this is a business for the Students' Union and it is not our interest to [compromise] that, our primary concern is to protect our community," said Director of Risk Management, Safety and Security Jennifer Yip Choy. "I have a problem with making it like any other bar downtown."

"The concern should be towards the people who could be potential victims," agreed Lafreniere. "The public has to feel safe being in a public place."

The university and SU are working to alleviate the situations involving non-students who cause problems while imbibing on campus.

"Perhaps [the SU] should be looking at a differential cover charge, $12 minimum for non-students," said Yip Choy. "In the best possible world I would like to see the Den become a place for students and their guests. Making people sign in would help them realize it's a privilege to be in a specialized club."

The SU is paying particular attention to ensuring the personal safety and enjoyment of Den and Black Lounge patrons is preserved.

"We've hired [and trained] plenty of extra staff and we are implementing new security measures," said Kerr. "I stand by my assertion that the Den is one of the safest bars in the city."

In addition, the SU is finalizing the purchase and implementation of a card scanning program that will enable them to keep track of problem customers city-wide. The system uses Alberta driver's licences.

"We will be implementing a system that scans everyone's identification [and save it] into a database," said Kerr. "The system is networked with other city bars so any problem customers will be flagged system wide. If you are flagged you will not get access to the Den."

Kerr urged U of C students to take responsibility in maintaining the integrity of their bar.

"Take pride in this place," he said. "You own 1/22,000th of that bar and don't let anyone take that away from you. If you see something going down, or anything suspicious, tell someone."

Anyone with further information on the Feb. 7 altercation can call Crime Stoppers at 1--800--222--8477 or call Detective Lafreniere directly at 288--5689.

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Comments

I am doing a research project on the idea of bars scanning and storing patrons information in a data base.

If you have any further information about the success or failure of this project as implemented at the Den, please e-mail me with your comments.

Thanks

Bill