Gunfire, officers assaulted outside Bustleton club

Almost a dozen gunshots were fired and three police allegedly assaulted early last Sunday outside a Bustleton nightclub that neighbors say has been a local nuisance for years.

No injuries were reported as a result of the gunfire and melee that involved more than two dozen people, police said.

The incident occurred in front of Goodlife Lounge, 9859 Bustleton Ave. Officers from the 7th district, which is based less than a block away at Bustleton and Bowler, along with those from the neighboring 8th district went to the scene at 2:49 a.m. after two security guards called 911 to report hearing gunfire.

Police saw 50 to 75 people in the parking lot, including about 25 who were engaged in “physical altercations” among themselves. A police sergeant tried to separate two men, but one of them allegedly turned to the cop and yelled, “Shoot me, shoot me, I’m black, shoot me,” prompting others in the crowd to turn toward the officers at the scene.

A lieutenant attempted to intervene, but the same man allegedly assumed a fighting posture. After the lieutenant discharged pepper spray at the man, a woman jumped into the fray and allegedly punched one cop in the head, punched a sergeant in the back and struck the lieutenant in the back.

She tried to run, but police quickly chased her down. Officers also arrested the man.

Meanwhile, a second man allegedly refused to disperse from the scene and “ran at” one officer. He was arrested, too.

Authorities identified the defendants as Tiffany Witherspoon, 29, of the 700 block of Brown St. in North Philly’s Poplar section; Brandon McCray, 29, of the 1000 block of Winder Drive, Bristol; and Keiph Valentine, 31, of the 5700 block of Mitchell Road, Levittown.

Hearing of the incident, Jack O’Hara, president of the Greater Bustleton Civic League, issued an email to city officials, police supervisors and the news media referencing a series of community complaints about the nightclub, which was previously known as Aqua, Pearl Ultra and Studio 98, he said. In one July 20, 2013, incident, eight women were hospitalized after a motorist intentionally drove an SUV through a crowd of people outside the club at 2:51 a.m. Two victims suffered critical injuries.

“The GBCL has a collection of neighborhood complaints originating from 9859 Bustleton collected over the last couple years,” O’Hara wrote.

The club is inside the Belair Center strip mall. Records show that the club operates with a “catering club” liquor license that allows it to serve alcohol to members and guests as late as 3 a.m. All patrons must exit the property by 3:30.

State liquor enforcement officers have cited the license holder for violations five times since 2005, although the first three cases were later dismissed without penalty.

The club was accused of selling alcohol to non-members 16 times and was fined twice in February 2012 for a total of $5,300.

The club has also been accused of furnishing alcohol to patrons after hours, failing to vacate the property after hours, allowing patrons to carry out alcohol after hours, serving alcohol to minors, selling alcohol at discounted prices after hours and employing an illegal “all you can drink” special for a flat price.

Goodlife Lounge, in its own online advertising, promoted two simultaneous events last Saturday night including a live music concert with “PnB Rock” and a birthday party. Both events were advertised to continue to 3:30 a.m. The ads made no mention of “members only” or “members and guests.”

After the shooting, the business posted videos of the concert on its Facebook page with the description, “PnB Rock set the stage on fire, last night was mad real for those who missed out!!” Another post stated, “PnB Rock had the crowd going wild, last night was amazing for those who missed out!!”

Early this week, the club began promoting additional events for next weekend featuring drink discounts and a 3:30 a.m. closing time. ••