Mother, Victim in Shooting at Tuscaloosa’s Spades Lounge Calls for Business to Close
A man who was shot last week at Spades Restaurant and Lounge in West Tuscaloosa and his mother called for the business to be closed at Tuesday night's city council meeting.
As previously reported by the Tuscaloosa Thread, the victim was an innocent bystander who was seriously wounded in the Wednesday morning shooting. Corey Kwaimaine Lewis, 24, of Eutaw was arrested and charged with first-degree assault and has since bonded out of the Tuscaloosa County Jail.
Calls for Closure
The mother of the victim, Yulondra Rhone, said the business should close because the business failed to follow its own rules, which say patrons must be at least 25 years old to enter the establishment.
Rhone said her son, Tyler Rhone, and the suspect in the case, Corey Lewis, are both 24 and should have never been allowed in the building.
Rhone also said the justice system failed her son by letting the suspect out of jail. She said Lewis had been arrested in an unrelated case in Greene County, and court records obtained by the Tuscaloosa Thread indicate Lewis was charged with attempted murder, shooting into an occupied building and reckless endangerment after an August 2019 shooting in Eutaw.
Rhone said the establishment should be closed so that no other parent has to get the phone call that their child has been shot. She said although her son survived, that may not be another family's fate.
"Until you get that phone call, it don't hit home until it hits your home," Rhone said. "Everybody don't get a second chance at life."
The victim who was shot, Tyler Rhone, was also present at the meeting, where he described being an innocent victim in the shooting. Rhone, who lives in Texas, was visiting his sister and her kids when the siblings decided to visit Spades.
Rhone said a fight occurred and he was trying to get him and his sister safely to their car to leave when he was shot. He said no one came to his rescue as he was lying on the ground for 10 minutes waiting for assistance to arrive.
"No one found it in their heart to come out and say 'hey, I don't know what this man has going on in his life but let's try to save him,'" Rhone said.
Rhone said he suffered a gunshot wound that hit a main artery in his leg, causing severe blood loss and injuries that will lead to at least a year of recovery.
Rhone, a father of three and military veteran, said he never thought he would have to fight for his life.
"I served in the Army for four and a half years, been overseas and never been shot," Rhone said. "This is my first incident, coming here to spend time with my sister and to see my kids, now I'm fighting for my life. Never have I had to fight for my life. I fought for you guys' life, but I never had to fight for my own."
Rhone said he is dealing with the physical, mental and emotional damage that the shooting has caused him and his family.
"Hearing my mom cry, hearing everyone affected by something I didn't cause on myself, it hurts me," Rhone said.
Voices of Support
Several citizens spoke on behalf of Spades Bar and Lounge and apologized to the victim. Their supporters noted the business did take measures to prevent the spread of violence at their establishment and wanted the city to know they run a safe business.
LaQuintan Toney, an owner at Spades, said they had several security officersand an off-duty police officer working on the night of the shooting but insisted even with those measures, they could not fully prevent the shooting from happening.
Toney said he personally reached out to the family after the incident, visiting the victim and his sister.
Toney said if the city is considering closing Spades, they should also be accountable for closing other establishments where other shootings have also taken place, including the gas station shooting that took place Friday morning on Martin L. King Jr. Boulevard, not far from where Spades operates.
"If you want to shut down Spades, what about any other bar on The Strip or downtown, or the mall," Toney said. "There was a shooting at the Chevron. What are we going to do about that?"
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox noted during the meeting that there have been no conversations about revoking Spades' business license in the wake of the shooting, but council members did make several recommendations that the business can take in order to assist with their efforts of running a safe business.
District 2 Councilwoman Raevan Howard said there is always room for improvement and suggested Spades should have first-aid supplies and people trained to use them for when a medical emergency occurs.
"I know in May the mayor gave a proclamation, there's something called National Stop the Bleed. First aid is very important to me. I do want to advise you to talk to [Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue Chief Randy Smith] to make sure you have all your first aid components in order," Howard said.
District 1 Councilman Matthew Wilson said many shootings have occurred in West Tuscaloosa, but no community should be labeled as a "gunman haven." Wilson said Spades has supported important community efforts and is a "leader" in the community. The other side of that coin, though, is that leaders must be able to take the good and bad.
"You have to realize and be able to accept it and say 'we messed up, we're going to fix it and we're going to move on," Wilson said. "This is a wake-up call for our community and a wake-up call for Tuscaloosa."
Wilson said he would like to have a meeting with the Tuscaloosa Police Department's Assistant Chief "Sebo" Sanders, the city's housing authority, businesses where other shootings have occurred, victims of violence and other citizens to discuss solutions that will "mitigate crime from the community and make the west side what the west side needs to be with pride."
For more on these conversations as they occur, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.