Nightclub liquor license suspended over stabbing, suspect caught
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston man was arrested in the stabbing of a University of Charleston football player at a troubled downtown nightclub.
Charleston police arrested Roland Willis II, 22, late Monday night. He was charged with three counts of malicious wounding after allegedly stabbing Kevin Clemens, 18, multiple times in the abdomen after leaving Impulse nightclub shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday.
Detective J.T. Tate said Willis was being interviewed early Tuesday and would be taken directly to South Central Regional Jail. He will be arraigned this morning and a bond will be set then.
Impulse had its liquor license suspended for 10 days over a late night stabbing, and Charleston police are seeking a warrant for a suspect in the incident.
The West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration opted to suspend Impulse nightclub's liquor license effective Monday, said Gig Robinson, agency spokesman.
The decision was made about 2 p.m. Monday.
"We're going to continue to investigate this incident, and further administrative action could be taken," Robinson said. "We're going to continue to work closely with the city of Charleston during this investigation."
Impulse nightclub has been the scene of multiple violent incidents over the past several months. Club owner Janet Amores did not return calls seeking comment.
Clemens, a freshman linebacker with the UC football squad, is from Wexford, Pa., according to the school's website.
Cooper said Willis approached Clemens while he was dancing with a woman.
A verbal altercation ensued, but the stabbing did not occur until later, when Clemens was exiting the bar, Cooper said.
"The suspect approached him (Clemens) again and began striking him in the abdomen," he said. "It turns out that he was striking him with a knife."
Willis then allegedly told Clemens that he should "check his innards," after he had stabbed the teenager multiple times, Cooper said. Officers have not recovered the weapon.
The stabbing occurred just outside the bar's entrance, Police Chief Brent Webster said. Officers have a video of the attack that was obtained from the nightclub's surveillance camera.
Clemens is in stable condition at Charleston Area Medical Center's General Hospital.
UC football coaches and employees with the Office of Student Life have visited Clemens at the hospital, said Scott Castleman, university communications director.
"Our heart goes out to Kevin and his family," Castleman said. "We're hoping for a speedy recovery and we want to see him get back on his feet as soon as possible."
Webster said officers are familiar with Impulse and have responded to numerous incidents at the club in the past.
"Crimes at Impulse continue to be high profile," he said.
Mayor Danny Jones referred to the club as a "crime factory," during a previous interview.
Jones was pleased with the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration's decision to suspend the license for 10 days.
"It's for 10 days now, but that suspension could be extended," Jones said.
When asked if he would like to see the license suspended permanently, Jones said he did not want to "second guess" the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration.
"This is a good thing," Jones said about the temporary suspension. "It gives us the opportunity to look and see what our options are."
Another stabbing occurred inside or just outside the bar in December, according to police.
In December, Larry Martin, 23, was stabbed four times in the head and neck and his cousin, Joseph Lucas, 27, was allegedly hit over the head with a beer bottle when he attempted to intervene. It's still not clear if that incident occurred inside the bar or just outside.
Police believe this incident occurred inside the bar. However, Amores claims the December incident occurred on the street.
During an interview on Sunday, Robert Parsons, Impulse manager, claimed the most incident occurred away from the bar at the corner of Capitol and Quarrier streets.
Webster said the video clearly contradicts that statement.
Parsons believes Jones and authorities have a vendetta against Impulse. Jones said the surveillance video shows that Parsons' statements weren't "credible."
"The video proves what kind of place they're running there, and they're trying to cover it up," he said. "It's a dangerous place."
Although Clemens is under the legal drinking age, it is not illegal for bars that sell liquor to allow 18-year-olds inside, Robinson said. He said permits issued to nightclubs are the same as those issued to restaurants that serve alcohol.
"But it's the responsibility of the staff at the bar to make sure that someone under 21 isn't drinking," Robinson said.
Officers responding to the numerous problems at Impulse cannot respond to situations in other parts of the city, which is a public safety issue, Webster said. He added that officers try to "camp out" in the area but they also have other responsibilities.
Webster was pleased with the state agency's decision to suspend the club's liquor license. The bar's temporary closure will allow officers to continue to investigate, he said.
"This was the right thing to do," Webster said of the suspension.