Almost a month to the day after her brother was shot outside Coyote Jack’s, Sharee James appeared in front of the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board to discuss security at the Cowart Street club.
“I want this place closed down,” she said Thursday morning. “My brother should be in college today. We shouldn’t have to visit him at a cemetery.”
James’ brother, Sharone Porter, was killed, and her other brother was injured in the Dec. 17 shooting.
It was a coincidence that James came to Thursday’s meeting because it was the same day Coyote Jack’s representatives were supposed to appear there to address violations that happened Dec. 30, according to the board agenda.
Most recent violations
Coyote Jack’s owners, Tammie Taylor and Ronnie Berke, were on the beer board agenda for Thursday morning to appear for three violations: serving alcohol outside permitted times, denying access to law enforcement and because an employee was drinking alcohol or intoxicated on the premises.
Assistant City Attorney Keith Riseman asked for the issues to be passed on to a future meeting because he and Berke couldn’t attend Thursday, according to discussion during the meeting.
Board member Christopher Keene took issue with that.
“I think there are some pretty serious things going on down there at Coyote Jack’s; this is awful serious action going on down there … [for] us to just pass it because someone can’t show up,” he said.
A couple of other beer board members agreed, and one explained that the board authorized Riseman to give Coyote Jack’s a continuance.
“Let’s just hope nothing happens down there while we’ve got them on this free pass,” Keene also said.
Taylor said Thursday she had no comment about the situation.
Ronnie Berke is Mayor Andy Berke’s uncle and partner at law firm Berke, Berke and Berke.
Her brother’s advocate
James told beer board members that her brother was not a gang banger. He was a college student who tried to intervene during an altercation and got shot, she said.
At the hospital following the incident, countless people showed up, she said. They were underage and drunk and had only been at Coyote Jack’s, she also told the board.
Jayda Mayhue, the girlfriend of Torrie Porter, who was also injured in the shooting last month, also spoke to the board.
She said she’s witnessed underage drinking and lax security.
“Certain security guards that come down will let them come in,” she said. “They don’t check everyone. Some people can come in with a gun if they know the right security guard.”
James read off a list of incidents that have happened at the business that she found in the news and said there’s been too much trouble there.
In May, the club was put on lockdown after a shooting outside, the Times Free Press and News Channel 3 reported.
In September, Berke argued that law enforcement targets Coyote Jack’s.
The board suspended sales after police testified that the bar served two people who were drunk and incapacitated, according to the Times Free Press.
In 2016, two other shootings, including one that led to the death of a security guard, happened at the location when it was called Bella Vita but under the same ownership. That business eventually closed and rebranded as Coyote Jack’s.
James said she wants to keep attention on this issue to prompt action. A day after she and her family visited Porter’s grave to leave flowers and release balloons, she said that she’s speaking up for her brother who can’t.
“In life, I was his protector, his provider,” she said. “In death, I’m going to be his mouthpiece, his voice.”