Clubowner: We Saved A Life

nightclub%20flyer01.jpg(Updated) It was past 2:30 a.m. Security guards were pushing the crowd out the door. Gunshots erupted outside when two groups of men confronted each other over an old dispute. The guards raced out, then rushed a bloody victim inside. They may have saved his life — and prevented a stampede.

That’s John F. Cox’s version of the violence that erupted early Sunday morning outside his seven-month-old hip-hop nightclub, Everybodeez Cafe & Lounge, on St. John Street.

Cox broke a 30-hour media silence Monday to offer his side of the story. (Click on the play arrow for excerpts.)

As investigators probe the incident — which sent four men to the hospital with serious gunshot wounds — Cox worries that his livelihood may be at stake.

“I’ve got to get a lawyer. I’ve got to get somebody to help me. This is crazy,” he said in an interview in the backyard of his home on the banks of the Quinnipiac River.

Hundreds of people came out for a “Sinful Saturday” show that ran until 2 a.m. Sunday at Everybodeez, which inhabits an abandoned factory building off Hamilton Street in an industrial zone between I-91 and the Mill River.

nightclub%20flyer%20back.jpgCox hires a promoter, “JayL aka Young Stezo,” to put on those Saturday shows. In addition to hiring a deejay for this weekend’s installment, JayL (he declined in a phone conversation to give his full name) said he arranged for a well-known rapper, French Montana, to make an appearance. Not to perform. Just to mingle.

That drew a crowd. Cox, the club’s permittee, said that he decided not to fill the club to its 325 capacity. He was worried about a scene getting out of hand with French Montana present.

He had “six to seven” security guards on duty, he said. He used to hire off-duty cops until he fell $500 in debt to the city, he said. He said his guards know the people who show up at the club, and choose carefully whom to admit.

They ended up allowing “75 to 100” people into the club, according to Cox. Two hundred more people assembled outside.

“There was people in the back of my place trying to get in. They were sitting on the handicapped ramp. They were trying to get in all night,” Cox said. ““Everybody wanted to get in to see him.”

The evening went smoothly, Cox said. He decided at 1:45 a.m., 15 minutes before closing time, to head out to a friend’s house in Hamden to unwind.

The club has to close at 2 a.m. according to the terms of its provisional cafe license. it did close on time but a little after 2:30, the guards were still ushering people out, Cox said, based on what the guards later told him.

“It takes a while to get people out of a nightclub. People want to stand around. Everybody want to talk.”

DSCN4883.JPGSuddenly security heard “pop pop pop pop“ said Cox (pictured), who’s 45. Guards rushed outside to find a 22 year-old man who, it would later turn out, had been shot in the face as well as repeatedly in his body.

From what Cox later learned “on the street,” the shooting stemmed from a phone call, Cox said: Someone who had not been allowed in the club recognized Dayron Wilkins, 22, of New Haven, in the outdoor crowd, and made a call. Wilkins had allegedly been involved in an ongoing dispute between two rival neighborhood groups that dates back to a shooting at a nightclub at 50 Fitch St. That shooting took place a year or more ago, Cox said. (He didn’t know if it was this September 2007 murder.)

Rivals of Wilkins received the phone call, showed up outside the club, and started shooting, Cox said. They shot Wilkins in the head and up to nine more times in the body. Police who rushed to the scene discovered two more shooting victims outside, a 23 year-old New Haven man and Treston Irby, 36, of Bridgeport; Cox said they were among the shooters.

The promoter, JayL, was in the club at the time. “I actually don’t know what happened. When the incident happened, I was standing there having a conversation with someone and I seen everyone running,” he said.

Some 20 cops worked the scene starting at 3:06 a.m.

Second, Related Shooting

Around 10 minutes after they arrived, police were called to the scene of another shooting took place blocks away, at the intersection of Olive, State and Grove Streets. (That’s where the state’s FBI building is located.)

According to Lt. Ariel Melendez, the supervisor on duty at the time, four people were at the light in one car when another car pulled up. Someone from the second car fired through the window of the first car. One of the bullets hit a passenger, Keyshon Zimmerman, 24, of New Haven, in the face.

The driver of the first car “basically hauls away from the scene, drives directly to Yale-New Haven Hospital,” Melendez said. The car’s occupants told patrol officers they’d come from Everybodeez.

Police Monday were still investigating the shootings. They wouldn’t confirm or deny the details of Cox’s story.

According to Sgt. Tony Reyes, who’s heading up the investigation, police have yet to interview the four victims in depth. They’re still badly injured and receiving treatment at the hospital (three at Yale-New Haven, one at St. Raphael’s), he said. But barring an unforeseen complication, all four are expected to survive, Reyes said.

Lt. Melendez said the patrol division will be looking into the club’s permits.

John Suchy, director of the Liquor Control Division of the state Department of Consumer Protection, said Monday afternoon that his office has asked the cops to fax or email “ “those reports they are comfortable releasing to us.”

Suchy said his division issued a provisional license to Cox on Jan. 8. It has yet to issue a final permit.

“We are reviewing now the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting that occurred. It appears just adjacent to the permit premises,” Suchy said. “I don’t want to comment on what it might do until we review the police reports.”

The police ask anyone with information on the shootings to call 946-6316 or 946-6304.

Fighting For Club’s Survival

As the victims fought to regain their health, proprietor Cox said he’s anticipating a fight to save his business.

He stressed that all the shooting took place outside his club, involving people who were never let inside. Police Monday said they received conflicting reports and weren’t sure yet exactly what happened. They have yet to interview the actual shooting victims at length, according to Sgt. Tony Reyes, who’s heading the investigation.

“My security and my staff, they done a hell of a job,” Cox said. “As far as I’m concerned, they saved a man’s life. And they saved a 100-and-something people’s lives. They got the people out. Nobody trampled over nobody. None of that.”

DSCN4876.JPGCox said he retired from construction work in New Haven after 25 years on the job. He had surgery eight different times, on his hands, on his midriff, because of accidents on the job. He saved some money, borrowed some money, found some investors, and opened Everybodeez.

The idea was to have a safe place for people to have fun, he said. “Bloods, crips,” everyone could come in as long as they behaved, he said. Given the recession, he decided to open just on Friday and Saturday nights for the time being. He also rented the space out for baby showers and school parties.

He said he’s concerned about police or state liquor control investigators making a case against his club in the wake of the shootings. So far he has invested up to $75,000 in the business, he said.

“I’m not going to give up,” Cox said, “because I didn’t do anything wrong.”

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posted by: jawbone on August 17, 2009  4:41pm

Dig the fishing rod in the background of the photo.  He’s just try’n to do a little fishing when the NHI came up and jacked him for an interview.

This guy needs a graphic designer.  The design of those flyers are what’s sinful.

posted by: fingers on August 17, 2009  5:59pm

Another example of the black man keeping the black man down. Why bring violence to this man’s doorstep? He’s trying to make a living.

posted by: David on August 17, 2009  9:33pm

There is an app for clubs, bars, lounges and promoters to post events so people using the nightlifeapp can find nightlife events around them.

posted by: Slightly Troubled on August 17, 2009  10:30pm

This all happened in the Wooster Square neighborhood or the outskirts of Wooster Square….2:30 that many people were still there ... and how does the story go from only 75 to 100 ppl being let in to his staff saving more than 100 - 125 ppl ...Cox, can’t keep his story straight. Not a good sign.

posted by: gimmeabreak on August 18, 2009  12:00am

Does anyone believe any of his story? Thats right its all the cops fault and everyone else in the world except those to really blame.

BTW   artful editing Paul,  and love the way you drooled over his hard luck surgery stories,

posted by: Community police enforcer on August 18, 2009  8:40am

Its unfortunate that the police have to be paid for security period.  Even at community events they are the most efficient of security and organizers have to pay for to secure the area.  Its not the cops fault but this definetly would’nt have had the same outcome if there were some badges there. why should people have to rent police and if they don’t have the money they are not protected. kind of sick when you think about prevention as the best solution to many of our social ills.

posted by: Jack on August 18, 2009  9:08am

What an asset to the community this place is.

posted by: Jack on August 18, 2009  11:03am

The Nightclub really dose need a name change. Something more in line with the ambiance of this fine establishment. How about ” The GangBangers Ballroom”.

posted by: Tired on August 18, 2009  12:09pm

Hey Fingers

The owner said out of his own mouth that BLOODS & CRIPS are welcomed to come to his club. So he’s a black man that had a hand at bringing a black man down for inviting the violence to his establishment.

He was better off opening something for the GROWN & SEXY. These men including the owner himself is too damn old to be having Bloods & Crips & hookers too by the look of the advertisements, up in your scene. Even if this club survives this, it’ll be closed in another year.

posted by: Treece on August 18, 2009  12:15pm

Another example of the black man keeping the black man down. Why bring violence to this man’s doorstep? He’s trying to make a living.


This black man that’s trying to make a living admitted to the public that this is an establishment that BLOODS & CRIPS can hang out at. And from the looks of it skanks too. What did he expect?? Isn’t this man too old to be rolling like that? Whatever happened to having a club for the GROWN & SEXY?? Now he trying to save a club that will most likely be closed a year from now just bcuz his staff saved a life. The last time I checked that’s what guards are supposed to do.

posted by: lance on August 18, 2009  12:27pm

leave it to paul bass to put a positive spin on a black on black quadruple shooting.

posted by: I told you so on August 18, 2009  3:21pm

First of all community police enforcer, why don’t you work for free, let’s see how long you can feed your family.

Secondly, that spot has always been a trouble spot, remember the EDGE, remember the stabbing inside, it was a mess that night and it too was a Hip-Hop Club.

This club ... is only 7 months old,(nice job) what about the teen dance they had there a few months ago, where two teens were shot, nice place to send your kids to dance.  And now we have several people shot, I thought the Security forgot to shut the back door after having a cigarette and that’s how the shooter got in ( Mr. Cox are your sure your security did a great job) come on who are you kidding.

And the Rapper you had wasn’t there problems Thursday night where he was rapping (Humphery’s)
Friday night where he was rapping (downtown) and Saturday night on St. John St.

If you want to “help people” close your club maybe open a youth community center,not an after hours club, that’s asking for trouble.

posted by: JP on August 18, 2009  9:35pm

This club is no different then synergy or 5 senses I dont know what it will take for the city to put a stop to it.

posted by: marcellis on August 19, 2009  12:15pm

The City of New Haven should pass an ordinance banning the playing of hip hop music everywhere: nightclubs, private residences or cars.  New Haven should be a hip hop-free zone.

Music has some ability to suggest certain behaviors to people.  Listening to hip hop encourages young black people to act like criminal knuckleheads.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 19, 2009  8:13pm

Hey Marcellis
So Than you would agree that white power punk bands encourages young white people to act racist.

posted by: hood rebel on August 20, 2009  12:02pm

I wish this guy was more successful but Word on the street is that his biggest mistake was not managing the club well by the fact that he encouraged (allowed)gang members to hang out there while wearing colors.

Serious folks in the hip-hop business say that the conventional wisdom is that you keep the gang bangers out of your business by all costs including hiring a city cop. Otherwise the bangers do what they do. And, that’s exactly what they did!

It’s an outrage that senseless BS like this is going down in legitimately established businesses

posted by: lance on August 20, 2009  4:19pm

three fifths few or nobody ever even heard of that “white power” group let alone listen to them.  it has like 122,000 views, and most of those are probably from liberals posting it on huffpo to play the race card.

compare that to the 20 million plus views for the tupac videos.

posted by: Concerned Citizen on August 21, 2009  2:14pm

If ever I have read a bunch of hypocritical, self-serving drivel this is it. First, the reason the likes of French Montana was invited is exactly to attract some of the type of people who showed up; those for whom violence is a way of life.  Mr. Cox is making a living off the potential for violence. He does not supply the guns but he creates the environment in which they are used.

Poor thing; he had eight surgeries, so now it is time to kick back earn some serious dollars while hoodlums get a place to congregate and make mischieve—Oh, but don’t implicate Mr. Cox; he is an innocent bystander trying to provide a nice place during the week and a gang banging paradise on weekends. The fact that he wants to have a place where the Bloods & Crips (in colors) can come and co-exist is not only frightening, but it is exploitive and opportunistic; it is praying on the ignorance of gangbangers and thugs. Treece & Jack have it exactly right.  Cox might as well change the name of the club to GangBangers Ballroom.

Secondly, why leave the club 15 mins before closing? Certainly, if he was the upstanding citizen he is claiming to be, he would have stayed to ensure that the club was safely cleared and closed when it was supposed to.  Did he know violence was brewing outside?  Is that the real reason he left? To have invited French Montana to mingle is to attract violence. Why invite the violence magnet in the first place? It that why he did not want to fill the club? Afterall, if there is a massacre, even he—the upstanding citizen—might get hurt. More importantly, he wants his liquor license, so let us bring the thugs over but don’t let them inside. No one can blame us for what happens outside; especially when we save one!

“We saved a life”  Really?!!! What about the lives placed in danger?  As a civilized society, we try to enact “damage control” and therefore punish someone for doing something that “could” cause something undesirable to happen. It seems that Mr. Cox did just that. Making sure that the violence happened outside is just another aspect of a sinister and somewhat sophisticated scheme.